Bowser, Ferebee Talk DCPS Reopening

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In the Oct. 22 situational update, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt and Dr. Lewis Ferebee spoke about the term two reopening of the DC public schools. 

Bowser began the update by thanking teachers, families and students for working together and being patient during these unprecedented times. 

“I want to thank the kids for being resilient and following the instructions of their teachers and families,” Bowser said. “I want to thank them for remaining hopeful.”

Dr. Lewis Ferebee, chancellor of the DC public schools, emphasized the importance of creating options for individuals struggling with online learning and provided a streamlined way for students to return to classrooms this fall. Ferebee cited statistics showing that young learners were less prepared coming into this year and that these discrepancies were predominantly affecting English language learners and Kindergarten students. 

In preparation for children to return to classrooms, the District reports that it has already invested 31 million dollars in safety measures for schools: 24 million dollars in HVAC enhancements, 3.6 million dollars in personal protective equipment and 4.5 million building readiness. Some of these funds were allocated to create the safety first space design which includes socially distanced desks, signage in entrances and hallways about COVID-19 safety and hygiene, plexiglass table top dividers, health isolation rooms and CDC approved cleaning supplies. 

Ferebee discussed the many measures of written verification and compliance monitoring that will continue to take place throughout the year. 

“We will be providing each school with its own readiness checklist that must be completed,” Ferebee said. “Once the school year has been launched, there will be ongoing compliance monitoring to ensure that we’re in line with our protocols.”

Ferebee said that opportunities for students to return in-person will occur tomorrow, Oct. 23, via phone and email to families in the District and encouraged families to respond to these notifications “as soon as possible.” Families will have two school days to respond to the offer and indicate whether or not they plan to have their child return to school in this term. If a family fails to accept the spot, or they cannot be reached within 5 days, the child will lose their spot. 

Timeline

Oct. 23: The first wave of notifications released to families about in-person learning seats.

Oct. 30: The first wave of notifications released to families about CARE classroom seats.

Nov. 9: In person learning classrooms commence for PreK-first grade.

Nov. 30: CARE classrooms begin for second through fifth grade. 

Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with HillRag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected]