Headlines - Mon, Sept 21

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2020 General Election Endorsements

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Technology Access

Technology Access

Opportunity gaps continue to plague our schools and many students, especially those from our poorest communities, continue to be left behind. The stark disparities in access to technology has long played a role in achievement gaps and the coronavirus pandemic has furthered the gap. It is time that DC Public School provides every student a computer or laptop and ensures access to the Internet.

We need volunteers to help us build our Technology Access Campaign. If you're interested in participating in this campaign, please sign up here: https://forms.gle/kEoTHBweLZbBAkh67

 

Take Action -- NOW

1. Sign-up to speak, spread the word to your parents, and organize your students to sign-up and testify at the Oct 2 DC Council Hearing on Distance Learning. It’s time our city leaders heard the truth about the challenges you and your

DC Council Hearing on Distance Learning in DC Public and Public Charter Schools

Fri. Oct. 2 at 9:00 A.M. (Live via Zoom): Register to Testify Here.

 

2. Encourage your families to take the Technology and Online Learning Survey for DCPS Families.

The Digital Equity in DC Education coalition is working to gather feedback on devices, learning platforms, Internet connectivity, and DCPS Tech Support in preparation for the Oct 2 hearing. This survey is for DCPS families only, as many questions are specific to DCPS and includes Spanish translation.

Click here to complete this survey: https://bit.ly/DigitalEquityParentSurvey

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Statement on Reopening Schools

 

Washington DC Teachers’ Release Statement on DC Public Schools’ Plans for a Virtual Start to the 2020-2021 School Year

 

WASHINGTON — The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) President Elizabeth Davis released the following statement regarding today’s announcement that DC Public Schools will begin the year with 100% virtual learning.

“The District of Columbia’s educators and students are eager to return to our classrooms and schools. Educators miss their students, and students miss their teachers and friends. We all miss our school communities – they are so much more than places to learn. Schools provide vital nutrition, physical safety, mental health and critical developmental supports to tens of thousands of students across the District every day.

“I’d like to thank the Mayor and Chancellor for putting the health of our teachers, students and communities at the forefront and delaying the resumption of in-person learning to begin the 2020-2021 school year.

“Over the coming days, we’ll be working with DC Public Schools to better understand the proposed schedules for students as we begin the new school year. We’ll continue to work to protect the health of our communities and will work to ensure that all students will have a positive virtual learning experience during the coming term.

“We again call on DC Public Schools to ensure that all students receive a computer or tablet to ensure that they are able to access virtual learning this school year.”

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The WTU represents more than 5,000 active and retired teachers. It is dedicated to social and educational justice for the students of the District of Columbia and to improving the quality of support, resources, compensation and working conditions for the public servants and proud teachers who educate our students in D.C. Public Schools.

In addition to health and safety recommendations, the WTU Reopen Report also makes recommendations about improvements to Distance Learning. The WTU report is available in its entirety at https://www.wtulocal6.net/reopen_dc_taskforce_report

 

The full statement is available to download here.

 

 

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DC Teachers Host Mock Lessons

Washington DC Teachers Host Mock ‘Socially-Distant’ Lessons

Send Petition to Mayor to Reopen Virtually

 

WASHINGTON – Culminating a week of events designed to showcase the challenges of returning to in-person learning in August, the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) staged mock in-person lessons at Freedom Plaza to highlight the challenges that DC Schools would face in maintain social distancing in a school environment this fall. The WTU also released a petition with more than 5,500 signatures of teachers and DC residents asking the Mayor to move to 100% virtual learning, if protocols to protect the health of teachers, students and communities could not be effectively implemented.

“DC teachers miss our students and our colleagues. We want to return to the classroom, in-person, this fall,” said WTU President Elizabeth Davis. “The WTU has not yet seen enough progress to believe that we can do so safely and initial plans to do so will create another set of concerns for our teachers and our students.”

Today’s event at Freedom Plaza, across from the John A. Wilson Building that houses the Mayor and City Council offices, highlighted the challenges associated with implementing guidance for the resumption of in-person learning provided by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Educators played the roles of teachers and students in four scenarios designed to highlight the challenges our educators will face if they are asked to return to in-person learning during the on-going pandemic and the consequences of failing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a school setting.

Read more here.

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#OnlyWhenItsSafe

Washington D.C. Teachers and Community Members Share Their Concerns About Plans to Re-Open Schools to In-Person Learning

 

WASHINGTON—Deeply concerned about the health and safety of teachers, students and the community if schools reopen without clear and enforceable health protocols, Washington D.C. teachers and community members gathered in front of the John A. Wilson Building on Tuesday morning. Attendees called on Mayor Muriel Bowser and District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee to re-open only when it is safe. 

“Our city’s teachers want to return to the classroom,” WTU President Elizabeth Davis said. “However, they are concerned for their personal health and that of their families, students and communities. This disease has a disproportionate impact on African American families and we must ensure that we have strong and transparent health protocols in place if we’re to consider reopening schools. Today, I wouldn’t feel comfortable returning to a classroom.”

“In 2011, I had a heart attack in my classroom. My students saw me wheeled out of my room on a stretcher,” shared Christian Herr, who has been teaching for 11 years. “My cardiologist has made it very clear to me that the risk of death from COVID is greater for people with hearts like mine. Even if I were to catch and survive it, it's more likely that my heart would never be the same. More likely that I would lose years with my wife or that my students would again see me rolled out of my room on a stretcher, although this time, I might not come back.“

Teachers unrolled a 100-foot banner displaying more than 150 stories like Christian’s, and read each story aloud.

The full press release is available here.

Some of their concerns follow:

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Covid Transmission Research

The Current Science of COVID-19 Transmission:

July 19, 2020

Steve Donkin, Ph.D.

Science Teacher - Cardozo Education Campus

 

Returning students and teachers to school buildings at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic will almost certainly lead to a spike in infections and cause more deaths.  This paper provides a summary of the current scientific literature on the infectivity and transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.  As outlined below, there remain many unknowns about this virus, and any decision about allowing students and teachers back together in schools must be driven by what the science tells us.

 

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Reimagining Security in Schools

As the Council of the District of Columbia prepares to vote on the FY2021 budget, the WTU supports the transfer of oversight of school security contracts from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to DC Public Schools (DCPS).

 

WTU Statement on Re-envisioning Safety in School Communities

 

Dear Chairman Mendelson & Chairman Grosso,

Our schools provide vital nutrition, physical safety, mental health, and critical developmental supports to tens of thousands of students across the District every day. In light of the continued unrest in our country and calls to reform policing practices, it is evident that it is time our city embraces change to, as DCPS’ mission states, ensure that every school guarantees students reach their full potential through rigorous and joyful learning experiences provided in a nurturing environment.

The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) supports maintaining direct DCPS authority over contract security and school resource officer contracts. We further believe DCPS needs to reduce these contracts and reallocate funding to invest in the social-emotional health of our school communities.... read the full statement here.

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