DC teachers’ union announces COVID-19 ‘situation room’

The Washington Teachers’ Union will have a coordinated “situation room” with D.C. Public Schools designed to immediately respond to coronavirus-related issues at District schools.

WTU President Elizabeth Davis spoke about the situation room during an online address to teachers and parents Tuesday.

“This situation room is basically where the chancellor and I everyday would have discussions about reports coming in from you, from 115 schools and him intervening right away to address the issues at that school,” Davis said.

Davis said she will meet with schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee every weekday morning at 9 a.m. and again at 4 p.m. to discuss any reported coronavirus case or related issue, such as contact tracing, social distancing and cleaning protocols. Ferebee would then respond to the problem within 24 hours.

“We do not need to go through any lengthy grievance or arbitration process to address issues that are related to COVID-19,” Davis said.

The union requested the situation room and additional precautions last month after a D.C. teacher died from health complications.

Helen Marie White, a cosmetology teacher at Ballou STAY Opportunity Academy, contracted the virus in January and died a short time later. She volunteered to teach in-person, but it is unclear if she contracted the virus at a school facility.

D.C. public schools began returning students to in person classes last month for the first time in nearly a year.

In a statement, D.C. schools spokeswoman Elizabeth Bartolomeo said creating a healthy and safe environment for in-person learning is the school system’s top priority.

“Ahead of DCPS reopening schools for in-person programming in February, we launched our COVID-19 Building Safety Hotline to promptly respond to questions or concerns people may have and will continue to engage our labor partners to address any building safety matters that may arise.

We will meet will with union leadership twice a week and will deliver a weekly report of what issues were reported in schools,” the statement said.

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.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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