Fairfax County moves coronavirus testing event after backlash

A Fairfax County, Virginia, coronavirus testing site at a local church was moved after backlash over whether it contaminated the space, which preschools also use.

In Falls Church, the Episcopal Church of Santa Maria is home to a pair of preschools: Building Blocks Day School and Metaphor Academic Center for Russian Language & Culture.

Many parents like Shira Zemel, whose child attends Building Blocks, were concerned when the Fairfax County Health Department announced a free coronavirus testing site at the same church for Thursday.

“Why does it need to be indoors? Every testing event that I am aware of, both in the DMV and across the country, has been happening outdoors. Why the insistence that this be indoors and in a building that has two preschools?” Zemel asked.

The event was scheduled to be in a different room than the preschools classrooms. Still, many parents became apprehensive, even considering taking their kids out of school during the testing event.

“If just some of us decided not to send our children, that really wouldn’t have been a solution, because, if god forbid anyone had been exposed who was there, and my son returns the next day, then that’s all for naught,” said Zemel.

WTOP spoke with Building Blocks’ Director Mabel Espinosa, who said she even considered shutting down the preschool over parents’ concern about exposure.

The Fairfax Health Department told WTOP that the risk of spread would be mitigated during an indoor event like the one originally planned at the location.

However, it decided to respect the wishes of the many parents and teachers who voiced concerns, ultimately choosing to move the event to the parking lot.

The move did “alleviate” Zemel’s concerns. She said her son will be in class with the event outdoors.

“I’m glad the health department was listening to our needs,” she said.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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