Chanting “Only when it’s safe,” some teachers, parents and students gathered at Lincoln Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of D.C. to march and rally against a decision to return to some form of in-person learning in the District starting Nov. 9.
Those gathered said they feel DC Public Schools’ plan to give 7,000 elementary school students the option to return was put together too quickly and without enough input from teachers.
“I think that we need a stronger safety plan before we can open schools,” D.C. school teacher Janine Levin said.
Levin said she believes the school system should make sure concerns expressed by the Washington Teachers’ Union have been met before any students and teachers reenter the school building.
Her biggest concerns are having enough personal protective equipment available at all schools for educators, the designation of isolation rooms for people who may show symptoms of COVID-19 and proof that all air handling systems are in proper working order.
“I want them [DCPS] to talk to teachers; I want them to talk to parents; I want them to listen to our concerns; and I want them to have a plan in place for us that we feel comfortable with,” said Kelly Maschari, who is a third-grade teacher at Brent Middle School in Southeast.
WTOP reached out to DC Public Schools for comment, and in a statement, the school system said it is calling upon “the entire community to be part of our Term 2 learning models.”
Gertrude Johnson is the parent of both a D.C. middle-schooler and an elementary school student. She came out to Lincoln Park to support the teachers because she also believes it is too soon to bring any kids and staff back.
“I think it’s a good idea; it’s just not a well-planned idea for DCPS,” Johnson said.
In addition to in-person learning for several thousand pre-K through fifth-grade students, the school system will also invite 14,000 students to come into so-called CARES classrooms. Students will continue their virtual learning but have an educator and classmates in the room as well.
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