In reversal, DC will not reopen elementary schools next week as planned

In a reversal, D.C. Public Schools will not reopen elementary school classrooms for most students next week as planned, citing the need to readjust staffing plans after strong pushback from teachers.

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee announced the move Monday. “We have heard feedback from many in our community about” the school system’s reopening plans “and we will use this moment to adjust our timeline and staffing plans for reopening,” he wrote on Twitter.

The plan, announced last month, allowed for up to 75% of elementary school students eventually return to classrooms starting Nov. 9.

Instead, all students will begin the second term with virtual learning.

The original plan to return elementary students to the classroom involved students in pre-K through fifth grade in both traditional classroom environments as well as what the school system called “CARE” classrooms.

The CARE classrooms — in which students would take virtual classes but from a DCPS classroom attended by a monitor or other school employee — were set to open Nov. 16.

In a letter to parents on Monday, Ferebee said the school system is “still taking steps to reopen and will begin by opening CARE classrooms as soon as staffing plans are confirmed.”

Families who were contacted by the school system and given the opportunity to return to classrooms will have the option to join a CARE classroom first, Ferebee said in the letter.

D.C. school officials said the plan to return students to classrooms was necessary because of the inadequacy of virtual learning for young students.

Overall, D.C.’s plan to return students to classrooms has drawn pushback from parents and teachers.

Last week, the Washington Teachers’ Union voted to express “no confidence” in the District’s plan to safely reopen schools.

“Last Thursday evening night, DC’s teachers spoke loudly and clearly. We do not have faith that the DCPS plans to reopen our schools are in the best interest of students,” WTU President Elizabeth Davis said in a statement issued Monday.

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