One seat is open on the Arlington School Board, a five-member body that helps oversee the public school system of roughly 23,000 students in Northern Virginia.

Two candidates, Mary B. Kadera and Major Mike Webb, are competing for the seat. If elected, they will face numerous difficult issues. Arlington, like school systems nationwide, is continuing to grapple with the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The majority of students have now returned for in-person learning, where they face a raft of stringent safety measures, including a vaccine mandate for student-athletes. Arlington, unlike neighboring school systems, chose to offer virtual learning this fall to any family that wanted it — but the district struggled to get its online schooling program off the ground, causing hundreds to miss class for several days.

On top of that, Arlington’s school board voted over the summer to remove the police who used to patrol their hallways as school resource officers. In replacement, the district and the Arlington police department formed a Youth Outreach Unit. Officers in this unit are not stationed inside schools, but instead offer educational programming for students — on topics such as cyberbullying and dating safety — and work to connect with students in more informal settings, for example at sports events. The district is still working out some of the details of this change.

The Washington Post contacted both candidates to ask about their backgrounds, reasons for running and their priorities if elected. Webb, who legally added Major as his first name, did not reply. The following profile of Kadera is based on her answers and has been edited for space and clarity.

Kadera, 52, is a media director for the nonprofit TED, which publishes well-known namesake educational talks. She previously taught English and biology in Virginia public schools. She wants to serve on the school board because she believes she can provide “a fresh perspective.”

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing Arlington Public Schools?

A: Our immediate challenges are how to keep our schools open; how to identify and support each student’s academic, mental and physical needs; and how to support educators’ health and well-being. Our longer-term challenges include making meaningful progress on equity and rebuilding public trust.

Q: What would be your top priority as a school board member?

A: I would like to see honest, open accounting of our strengths, weaknesses and progress. We need to do a much better job owning up to our challenges and shortcomings so that we can fix them and so the community understands that there’s a commitment to continuous improvement. I want to see us sharing our progress towardour goals.

Q: Do you support a vaccine mandate for staff? For students?

A: I support a requirement for all students and staff to be vaccinated or participate in coronavirus testing at least weekly. This will reduce the likelihood of outbreaks and quarantines in our schools, which is in everyone’s best interest.

Q: Do you agree with the decision to remove school resource officers?

A: I support the decision to remove SROs from Arlington’s schools and applaud APS for its careful study of this issue through the SRO Working Group it convened over several months of the past school year.

Webb, a former candidate for governor of Virginia who describes himself as right-leaning on Facebook, did not respond to several requests for comment via email and on social media.