DC Public Schools decision delayed; high school athletics postponed

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday that the decision on how D.C. Public Schools will start the year has been delayed until July 31.

Bowser cited trends in the District’s COVID-19 data that are “not ideal.”

“We know that the situation with this virus is changed. And has been volatile in this week especially,” the mayor said.

Bowser also said the reason July 31 was chosen as a date for the decision is that the school system “will need at least that much time” to prepare for the new school year.

Options for DCPS include an all-virtual start to the year as well as a mix of virtual and in-person learning.

Like other school systems grappling with how to handle the new year, the hybrid option for DCPS students includes splitting them into A and B groups with two days of in-person learning (Monday and Tuesday for group A; Thursday and Friday for group B) and virtual learning on other days.

The District’s school year is set to start Aug. 31.

D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said, “Overall, in the District, we’re in a good place.”

“However, there are three metrics that are of concern for us right now with our community conditions that have led to the recommendation,” Nesbitt added.

She also said that the decision to revisit the school reopening plan had to do with the rate of transmission in D.C. and monitoring data.

“Those things are related to the rate of transmission, or the low transmission rate,” Nesbitt said, noting that that it has been above 1 for the last several days.

“We want to have the opportunity to monitor that and see if it will decrease and be below one as it had been for the last several weeks,” she said.

“The other thing is that, as we moved into reopening, we expected to have this new cases. … However, the amount of community transmission and community spread that we have at this point, and our inability to consistently see declines in new cases and community spread is not where we would like it to be at this point. And so additional couple of weeks of offices would be beneficial. And the third thing that we want to continue to keep our eyes on for the next couple of weeks is how connected the new cases we see are.”

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.

DC high school sports delayed until Jan. 2021

High school athletics in the District for the upcoming school year will be postponed until January 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the D.C. State Athletic Association announced later Thursday.

“Given the current environment, it just is not feasible to begin practice Aug. 1 and competition later that month,” DCSAA Executive Director Clark Ray said in a news release. “The safety of student-athletes and coaches remains our top priority.”

The DCSAA, which includes public, public charter and private schools, said in the release that it will follow a “Condensed Interscholastic Plan” for the school year that is subject to final approval by the mayor and D.C.’s Health Department.

The association said its plan will allow all sports to have a playing season during the school year.

The plan includes three playing seasons, starting with winter. According to the DCSAA, each season will have a three-week preseason and a six-week regular season, then league playoffs and state championships. Here’s what that looks like:

Winter season: basketball, indoor track and field, cheerleading

  • First practice date: Dec. 14
  • Game dates: Jan. 4 to Feb. 28

Fall season: cross-country, football, soccer and volleyball

  • First practice date: Feb. 1
  • Game dates: Feb. 22 to April 16

Spring season: baseball, softball, tennis, track and field, ultimate disc and chess

  • First practice date: March 29
  • Game dates: April 19 to June 13

DC coronavirus numbers

The District reported 50 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the total to 11,076.

Three more D.C. residents lost their lives to the virus, for a total of 574.

Track the District’s coronavirus data online.

Below are maps of coronavirus cases by ward, neighborhood and community spread (click to enlarge).

WTOP’s Teta Alim contributed to this report. 

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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