Possible DC schools reopening plan has one union concerned

As D.C. Public Schools appears to be moving forward with a plan to bring back some form of in-person learning in November, the union which represents school administrators is expressing concerns it has about the plan.

Richard Jackson, president of the Council of School Officers (CSO), said D.C. public school principals have been getting information about a potential Nov. 9 in-person return trickling in, but no concrete plan has been laid out.

Among the worries Jackson said are if there is enough time to make necessary repairs and put coronavirus precautions in place, at the schools which have mainly sat vacant since March.

“What we’re hearing from principals is little to nothing has happened in preparation for that,” Jackson said.

He said the projects that were expected include the installation of plexiglass dividers and the addition of markings that encourage social distancing.

The CSO, which represents school administrators, said it would like to see confirmation that all the schools have been deep-cleaned.

Little has been revealed about who will return to classes and if it will only be hybrid learning, which has students in classes a couple days a week, according to Jackson.

Whether or not DCPS turns to outdoor learning also remains a question.

“Our school leaders are being asked to be prepared for in-person learning, not having a lot of details, and therefore not being able to prepare their communities,” Jackson said.

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee, in a statement to WTOP, only said the school system continues to plan for a reopening, and on Friday met with school leaders about how they will receive guidance and technical assistance to make sure health and safety measures are in place.

“It is our commitment that every school is prepared to meet their individual school community’s needs ahead of a potential reopening for Term 2 in November,” Ferebee said.

Virtual learning has been difficult for teachers and this isn’t a case of administrators not wanting to see a return to classrooms, Jackson said.

Jackson said he believes to meet the Nov. 9 target date, DCPS will need to be more transparent about the process.

“I think it can be done, we want it to be done, but we want it to be done in a healthy, safe way,” said Jackson.

Fall school plans for DC, Maryland, Virginia systems during coronavirus

During a Sept. 17 briefing, Mayor Muriel Bowser said she would like to see D.C. Public Schools institute a hybrid learning plan for the semester beginning Nov. 9.

“We’re planning for a hybrid return to school,” Bowser said.

D.C. Public Schools had an online-only start in August, as did many area universities.

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.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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