Issue 44
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Prince William County
Dear Neighbors,

On a somber note during this holiday season, I think it is important for those of us who are navigating this difficult time as only a major inconvenience, to remember there are those among us who are truly suffering both emotionally and financially from the effects of this pandemic. 

Firstly, there are people who have been directly affected in the worst way, losing a loved one to this virus. My heart goes out to them. They won’t be with or hearing from someone dear to their heart this holiday season. There are others who are scared because they have a loved one currently suffering with the virus. Please take a moment to keep them in your thoughts and prayers. 

Secondly, there are people who have been continually out of work, have suffered business losses, are struggling with a potential eviction in the coming months, or are worried the extensive safety net that has been provided during these past nine months is about to run out. After the first of the year, when many funding sources run out, some may not know where their next meal will be coming from, families may not have a place to live, and business owners may not be able to continue to keep employees. Please consider them this season and be grateful if you are not among them. Consider how you can help.

For those of us who are among the waiting, as we hear positive news on vaccines, and thankfully see the vaccination light at the end of this dark tunnel, please remember it is still months away. We must stay focused on where we are right now - entering possibly the worst time we’ve seen. This is why it has never been more important to diligently follow all mitigation measures. Maintain social distancing, wash your hands, use sanitizer - and always wear a face covering in public places and inside with others who don’t live in your home. These things, in our season of giving, truly are the greatest gifts we can give one another. 

In Service,
Chair Ann Wheeler
Percent Positive Cases
The red outlined sections of this Northern Virginia map, captured on Sunday, December 6, are the top 20 highest case rates by zip code. Sadly, six are in PWC. Those areas and their percentage of positive cases are:
  • Manassas 20109 - 15%
  • Manassas 20110 - 15%
  • Manassas 20111 - 15%
  • Woodbridge 22193 - 13%
  • Woodbridge 22191 - 12%
  • Dumfries 22026 - 10%
Please visit this interactive website to get more detailed information about where you live, work and frequent.
Help To Those Who Need It
PWC has an Emergency Housing Assistance Program available to all eligible households residing in PWC and cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. The program provides those who have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19 with up to six (6) months payments of emergency mortgage, rental and utility housing assistance to prevent homelessness.
Information on additional resources for residents and small businesses can be found on these websites.
Local Testing
The list of weekly testing locations and times website is being continually updated. Please check it to confirm before heading out and arrive at the site as close as possible to the start time. If you can arrive prior to the designated start time, that is even better. Testing is not available once the test kits are depleted at each site.
Special Testing Event
The Prince William Health District is hosting a special testing event on Monday, December 7 starting at 4:00 pm at Splashdown Water Park located at 7500 Ben Lomond Park Road in Manassas, VA 20109

Up to 500 tests will be offered and the event will be open until the allocated test kits are depleted or 7:30 pm, whichever comes first.
Hand Sanitizer
As an integral part of our COVID-19 mitigation toolkit, the CDC has provided the following guidance for selecting and using hand sanitizer:
  • Choose hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid alcohol-based hand sanitizers that are not approved by FDA.
  • Rub the gel over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.
  • Keep them out of reach of young children and supervise their use. Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning.
Upcoming Meetings
TuesdayDecember 8

BOCS meeting
from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm
at Buckhall Volunteer Fire Station
7190 Yates Ford Road in Manassas

Joint meeting with the School Board
starting at 7:00 pm
at Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center 
14715 Bristow Road
Social And Racial Justice Commission
At the Tuesday, December 1 meeting the BOCS's made the following appointments to the newly formed Social and Racial Justice Commission. You can view their resumes by clicking on the name.
Route 28 Virtual Meeting
PWC, in conjunction with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT), invites you to attend a virtual informational session regarding the Route 28 Bypass project on Monday, December 7 at 7:00 pm. The meeting will inform residents of both counties about the project background, efforts to date, and the current status. A focus will be on proposed concepts for the Route 28 Bypass connection and tie-in point to existing Route 28 in Fairfax CountyThe public is invited to ask questions at the conclusion and to provide feedback. A recording of the meeting will be posted on the website link below after the live session.
County News
Recently, I participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the newly renovated Central Community Public Library Public. The renovations, which began in early 2020, provide new open spaces designed for better programming and community enjoyment. Additionally, they allowed the Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center, or RELIC, to return to Central Library after 25 years at the Bull Run Regional Library. The move will give RELIC visitors more room and better spaces to research local history and genealogy.
"Today marks a new, exciting chapter for Central Library and Prince William Public Libraries. It represents a continuation in fulfilling Prince William Public Libraries' mission of bringing people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community in a welcoming, inclusive environment."
Ann Wheeler
Chair At-Large Board of County Supervisors
School News
Deadline Approaching
The School Board is seeking your input on the following three questions as they embark on the process of selecting our next School Superintendent:
  • What do you see as the greatest strengths of PWCS?
  • What do you see as the greatest challenges faced by PWCS?
  • What qualities and characteristics does the next superintendent of PWCS need to possess and demonstrate?
To participate complete the online survey by Thursday, December 10.
Plan For High School Sports
Following the guidance provided by Governor Northam’s Executive Order 67, the Virginia High School League, and the Virginia Department of Health, PWCS currently plans to have high school students and coaches return for season one (winter sports) of basketball and coaching on Monday, December 7. Other winter sports are scheduled to start on Monday, December 14. Based on current local health metrics, only remote spectators will be allowed for athletic competitions. This will help our schools acclimate to the new mitigation strategies for teams, cheerleaders, officials, medical personnel, and event staff.
Please Note
PWCS will continue to closely monitor the local health data and may postpone or suspend all or some activities during periods of substantial COVID-19 transmission in the community or schools. If you have any questions, please email Ken Bassett, Director of Student Learning or Kelly Gardner, Supervisor of Student Activities.
Gee Whiz!
PWCS is one of only three school districts nationwide to receive the International Society for Technology in Education's (ISTE) Distinguished District Award. Applicants had to demonstrate that their use of technology is innovative, appropriate, and effective for its students. A nonprofit, ISTE works with the global education community to accelerate the use of technology to solve tough problems and inspire innovation.
State News
Legislative Update
At the BOCS's Tuesday, December 1 meeting members of the Virginia General Assembly representing the citizens of PWC provided an overview for their upcoming 30-day 2021 legislative session.
2021 Legislative Priorities:
  • Address local pandemic needs
  • Expand broadband availability
  • Support equitable cost sharing between state and localities for Children's Services Act (CSA) funds
  • Restore full funding for STEP-VA
  • Fully fund joint Behavioral Health and Law Enforcement Crisis Response Teams
2021 Legislative Agenda:
  • Address transportation needs - includes fully funding NVTA (Issue 12) to pre-2018 levels
  • Address economic development and land use needs - includes supporting continued growth and investment in the sciences and engineering sectors at the George Mason University Campus in PWC
  • Address human services needs - includes supported continued telehealth flexibilities after emergency order is lifted
  • Address needs of safe and secure community - includes providing adequate funding for Pretrial Services
  • Address education funding needs - includes supporting full funding for K-12 education
  • Higher education - includes supporting advancement of programs and facilities needed by Norther Virginia Community College and George Manson University
  • Address general government/administrative needs - includes continued support of early and no-excuse absentee voting
Redistricting Commission
You have until Monday, December 28 to submit your application to be one of the eight citizen members who will will serve alongside eight members of the general assembly on Virginia's Redistricting Committee. The legislative members will choose from among the applicants and submit lists of nominees to a panel of five retired circuit court judges who will approve the final eight choices by January 15. To be eligible, applicants must:
  • Be a Virginia resident
  • Be a registered voter for at least the past three years,
  • Have voted in at least two of the past three elections

Anyone who has held or run for political office, been employed by a campaign or officeholder, or who has been a registered lobbyist within the past five years will not be eligible to participate, nor will any of their close relatives.
Keeping You Safe
Mitigation Efforts
Virginia Railway Express (VRE) has been hard at work ensuring passengers have a safe and healthy commute! In this video, you can get a sneak peek at the measures they've taken (like plenty of hand sanitizer and social distancing!). Even better, step inside a rail car and experience it yourself in their interactive 3D tour!
'Tis The Season
Issue 43, our holiday themed special edition, shared several safe activities to help get you in the holiday spirit, but it was just a sampling! Check out Visit Prince William's list of festive things happening in PWC! With these categories, there is something for everyone in the household:
  • Holiday Festivities
  • Holiday Performances
  • Eat, Drink & Be Merry
  • Christmas Parades & Tree Lightings
  • Santa Visits
  • Holiday Bazaars & Craft Festivals
New events will continue to be added, so check back often!
Mother Nature Gives Us A 2020 Bright Spot
On Monday, December 21, the cosmos will align in a way they haven't since the middle ages gifting us what is called the Christmas Star or the Star of Bethlehem. This “star” though is not actually a star - it's Jupiter and Saturn! On that day, the two planets will align in orbit and be so close to earth that they'll almost appear to be colliding and create an intensely bright "star." They align roughly every 20 years, but the last time it was this close was March 4, 1226!
The phenomenon will last for about an hour before dipping below the horizon starting 45 minutes after the sun sets at 5:34 pm on December 21. If the skies are clear, the 'star' should be visible to the naked eye when looking to the southwest. While the 21st is the optimal day, it will happen around the same time the entire fourth week of December. The next time it's this close will be March 15, 2080.
New To PWC
Operating in Fairfax County for the past 6 years, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (FACS) is now in PWC. A non-profit organization, FACS seeks to unite people of faith and faith communities to develop local solutions to the climate crisis. By working together in faith, they believe people and places of worship are able to dig deeper, go further, and achieve change more. If you or your faith community are interested in taking the lead on local climate solutions alongside them, please subscribe to their newsletter or email them.
Ann B. Wheeler was elected Chair At-Large of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors during the 2019 General Election and assumed office on January 1, 2020. Prince William County is located 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., and is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s second-most populous county with approximately 470,000 residents.