DC schools set to reopen for in-person learning in February

D.C. education officials are asking public schools to release their reopening plans to their respective communities by the end of the week, as the District targets Feb. 1 for the resumption of in-person learning.

At a Wednesday town hall on the upcoming reopening, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee asked individual elementary, middle and high schools to consider which of four models is best for them on reintroducing in-person teaching.

As part of what Ferebee called a grassroots decision-making process, schools can choose between four models lettered A through D, ranging from all teaching being held in-person, to maintaining some degree of remote instruction.

Elementary school students

For elementary schools, Model A would exclusively feature in-person learning, but would institute a cap of 11 students per classroom.

Model B would be a combination of in-person and virtual instruction, similar to what is currently in place in most of the District’s elementary schools.

Model C would have teachers split two classrooms up, with teachers instructing each classroom on alternating days.

Model D would have one teacher instructing two classrooms at alternating times — one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

Middle and high school students

For middle and high school students, Model A would be structured around students who need academic and social and emotional help.

Model B students would have class instruction four days out of the week, splitting their time between in-person and virtual instruction. Ferebee said most schools are currently running on this model.

Model C would be tailored around when individual classes or teachers meet, since students have multiple teachers at differing times.

For Model D, students would have in-person learning for either one full day or a half day per week.

Safety protocols

DCPS Operations Chief Patrick Davis said enhanced safety protocols are a priority in order to reduce the risk of transmission.

New masks will be given to staff and students each day. Teachers will have face shields in addition to the masks. HEPA filters will be installed in each classroom to continuously clean the air, and there will be markers on floors to encourage social distancing.

Each school will go through a checklist to identify personal protective equipment, cleaning protocols and sufficient desk space that encourages social distancing.

Vaccinations for all school staff are expected to commence on Jan. 25.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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