Teachers at D.C. schools are one step closer to an agreement to return to in-person learning.
“The Washington Teachers’ Union is pleased to announce an agreement with D.C. Public Schools on a Memorandum of Agreement that lays out conditions needed to return to in-person learning,” the union said in a news release Thursday.
The agreement covers the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year or through the end of the coronavirus pandemic, whichever is sooner.
There will be increased transparency around facility walk-throughs, ensuring that teams assigned to represent school communities will be able to verify that facilities are ready to reopen.
D.C. schools will also administer a survey asking WTU members if they are interested in returning to teaching in person or if they are interested in continuing with distance learning.
In addition, DCPS will let the union know what the demand is for in-person seats. And if the demand is more than the availability of bargaining union members, the school system may assign union members for in-person instruction.
This does not include members who have been approved provisions through the Americans with Disabilities Acts and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, among others.
“D.C. teachers miss our students and recognize that many have struggled to adapt to distance learning,” WTU President Elizabeth Davis said in a statement. “Reopening our schools won’t be a return to normal; we are committed to finding ways to best support our students who have struggled the most during the pandemic.”
In a statement, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the agreement “brings us another step closer to getting our students where they need to be — in the classroom, surrounded by educators and friends, feeling challenged and loved.”
“While CARE classrooms have been limited, we know that for many families they have provided a critical lifeline,” Bowser said. “Still, we know that the best option for our young people is in-person learning, and that has remained our focus.”
A report by EmpowerK12 found D.C. students are in a “COVID learning slide.” They have lost four months of learning in math and one month of learning in English language arts.
The school system and the union have been locked for months trying to reach an agreement, and the negotiations have been precarious at times.
As of Wednesday, the number of students who have tested positive for the coronavirus was seven and the total number of students in quarantine is 57, according to D.C. data.
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