This story is part of “Parenting in a Pandemic,” WTOP’s continuing coverage of how parents are dealing with child care, schooling and more through the coronavirus pandemic.
As parents gear up for D.C. Public Schools to start Monday, officials offered up a checklist of what to keep in mind, as well as a warning about vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite the fact that kids aren’t reporting to a school building, we still need families to stay on track with their vaccinations,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said during Wednesday’s news conference.
D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt highlighted the importance of making sure kids are protected against preventable illnesses, such as measles and chickenpox.
“This year, because of the impact of COVID-19 on our health care system, and accessing well-child visits, we have experienced an unprecedented decrease in childhood immunization rates in particular amongst the school-age population,” Nesbitt said.
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Nesbitt said the city wants to make sure families are using the available resources to keep up with childhood immunizations and to make important health checkups.
D.C. officials also highlighted the need to enroll students and register for virtual devices, as well as make sure the public knows about mental health services they can take part in.
Department of Behavioral Health Director Barbara Bazron announced that her agency has created a program to help the parents of students during the pandemic.
“DBH is working with the (D.C. Public Schools) chancellor and the other education partners within the District to launch the school-based parental support program to support parents in the District, who, like those across the nation, are experiencing higher levels of stress as they seek to manage the demands of parenting responsibilities, work, distance learning and the impact of being sequestered for many months with their families,” Bazron said.
The idea is to promote mental wellness for families.
Bazron said all services are confidential and will be provided at no cost. Parents can access the service by calling 1-888-793-4357. There is also be an online support network called Wellness Wednesdays.
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee reminded parents to register for student enrollment.
“As we ramp up into the first day of school, reminder to everyone that we still need families to enroll,” Ferebee said. “So, if you were a student last school year, and you may be thinking there’s nothing to do, just log in on Monday, we still need you to enroll.”
“If there’s a need for a device or the need for support with internet access, they can reach out directly to their school once they’ve completed the enrollment process,” Ferebee said.
What kind of digital device a student will receive is based on what the District thinks is developmentally appropriate. For example, pre-K3 and pre-K4 students will receive an iPad for virtual learning. Elementary and secondary students will likely get a Microsoft Surface Pro, or the Lenovo or Dell laptop.
Families who need devices or support with internet access should reach out to schools directly, Ferebee said.
The plan for D.C. Public Schools to have an all-virtual start on Aug. 31 was announced in July.
DC coronavirus numbers
D.C. added 38 new coronavirus cases Wednesday. The total stands at 13,722.
The District also reported an additional death. The total stands at 605.
Track the District’s coronavirus data online.
Below are maps of coronavirus cases by ward, neighborhood and community spread.