Even post-pandemic, distance learning may stick around for DC public schools

Some pandemic-related changes could stick around at D.C. Public Schools moving forward.

Even post-pandemic, distance learning may not be thing of the past.

School systems throughout the region are working to get more kids back in the classroom before the school year is over.

The general consensus is that remote learning has helped, but isn’t as effective as being in the classroom when it comes to getting the most out of school in an academic sense, never mind the social experiences students are also missing out on.

In the District, more students are expected back in the classroom by the end of April, and DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee has said that, right now, his expectation is that everyone will be back in the classroom by the time the next school year begins in the fall.

But he also hinted that remote distance learning isn’t going to become a thing of the past either.

It was during a town hall on Wednesday night that a parent of a DCPS high school student said their child had adapted well and enjoyed remote learning, and was wondering if that would be an option again in the fall.

Ferebee, the parent of a high school student himself, said it’s something he’s thought about.

“I’ve seen some progress and I’ve seen some of the benefits,” of remote learning, said Ferebee.

Noting that remote learning had been utilized in the past too, Ferebee made it sound like it was definitely on the table, but that there were still lots of details that needed figuring out.

“We haven’t made a determination whether or not that would be school-based or centralized next year, or whether or not we’ll offer the full spectrum of courses,” said Ferebee.

He said more information will be shared once the school system has a better understanding of what health and safety guidelines might allow and what the city is capable of offering in a virtual setting.

But then he doubled down and made clear he thinks it’s a concept worth keeping around.

“We’ve seen students take advantage of advanced course offerings such as AP courses or college credit that can be earned throughout the school year without a student actually being in the classroom,” said Ferebee. “We want to learn from those gains that students have been able to realize through the posture that we’re in now, and potentially take those into the future.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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