DCPS to Start New School Year ‘With In-Person Learning for All’

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Families and community members gather outside Maury ES on the first day of school, August 2019, in this file photo. E.O'Gorek/CCN

DC says the kids are going back to school.

In an email to families sent Thursday afternoon, DC Public Schools (DCPS) announced they will fully reopen with in-person learning for all students, every day in the fall for the 2021-2022 School Year.

The first day of school for students will be August 30.

“In the fall, all DCPS teachers will be back in schools teaching in their classrooms,” said the message.” Our schools will continue to implement a system of layered protections to ensure we are able to safely offer in-person programming and all our District’s facility space will be fully maximized.”

Earlier the same afternoon, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced an increase to the uniform per student funding formula (UPSFF). That includes a  3.6 percent increase to the UPSFF foundation level, as well as provisions to increase funding for students who are at-risk, over-age in high school, or are English Language Learner (ELL) students in secondary grades.

Parents had expressed concern about cuts to school budgets for the 2021-22 school year, viewed as a year of recovery after pandemic learning.

In testimony before the DC Council Committee of the Whole, Ward 6 Parent Valerie Jablow said that Local School Advisory Teams (LSATs) are being asked to choose between academic and emotional support in a time of increased needs.

She said that 51 percent of schools lost staff positions for the 2021-2022 school year compared to the year previous, cuts made even prior to the pandemic.

In a tweet, the Washington Teachers’ Union called on the Mayor to promise there would be no staff cuts for Fall 2021.

The Mayor’s office said that preliminary allocations provided by (OSSE) indicate that DC Public Schools (DCPS) will receive approximately $191 million. Somewhere over $156 million will be allocated to District Public Charter schools based on a federal formula.

Vaccines have not yet been approved for students under 16 years of age, although Director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Rochelle Walensky recently told ABC News that she  expects children as young as 12 will become eligible to get vaccinated as early as mid-May.

Pfizer recently released promising data indicating its vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 12 to 15.

With COVID-19 vaccination still not on the radar for elementary school children, DCPS has not indicated whether virtual learning would remain an option for students. “While there are things that are still unknown,” the message reads, “such as any adjustments to health guidelines and how to best leverage virtual learning, we have a long runway to thoughtfully plan for next school year.”

This story is updating.