Good morning. I am Elizabeth Davis, President of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU). The WTU represents over 5,000 active and retired teachers. We are 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. Many of our WTU members live and pay taxes in the District and have kids or family members that attend DC schools. I am a DC teacher and DC resident.
Teachers understand and sympathize with those who want to return to our classrooms. Virtual instruction cannot replace the experiences our students get in a classroom. We understand the social and developmental concerns facing our students in this virtual environment. However, we do believe that teachers are doing an exceptional job during this pandemic, reaching and engaging their students, despite many technical issues and concerns. In the words of one WTU teacher:
“Virtual learning is not ideal; however, I do feel as if it is improving each and every day as teachers and students and families settle into a new routine. I would prefer to continue on the virtual learning trajectory and continue to do our very best as opposed to renter our building for in person learning without preparations and without knowing the state of our building and whether or not precautions have been taken. There is absolutely no need to risk lives. We should stay the course and continue to improve until a vaccine is created and building are safe and secure.”
~~ A WTU Teacher
The WTU understands that learning in our classrooms, both brick and mortar and digital, is impacted by many factors some out of the direct control of teachers. But, we can – and will – advocate for our students to receive the supports they need. The educational environment isn't confined to the classroom but, instead, extends into the home and the community and around the world. Information isn't bound primarily in books; it's available everywhere in bits and bytes.
- WTOP - Possible DC schools reopening plan has one union concerned
- NBC4 - DCPS Buildings Assessed Ahead of In-Person Learning That Could Start Nov. 9
- WAMU - Four D.C. Councilmembers Demand More Information From Bowser About School Reopening Plans
- WUSA9 - 'This is a gut-wrenching decision for parents' | DC Councilmember demands plan for in-person learning
- The Washington Post - C. school leaders struggle to reopen buildings for small groups this month as staff reluctance persists
- Fox5DC - DC Public Schools may move forward with in-person instruction soon
- The Washington Informer - C. Working on Plans to Begin In-Person School in November
- The Washington City Paper - To Safely Return To Campus, D.C. Schools Look To Outdoor Learning
- Washingtonian - This Principal Learned Some Students Had Faulty Smoke Detectors While Watching Them Learn at Home. Now the Fire Department Is Helping to Keep Them Safer.
- C. Policy Center - D.C. Voices: Distance learning supports for students with disabilities and English learners
Good morning. I am Elizabeth Davis, President of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU). The WTU represents 5,000 active and retired teachers. We are 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. Many of our WTU members live and pay taxes in the District and have kids or family members that attend DC schools. I am a DC teacher and DC resident.
As an educator, I am held responsible for much more than the academic progress of my students. Teachers understand that the essence of high-quality education is a close relationship between a knowledgeable, caring adult and a secure, motivated child. Educators grasp that their most important role is to get to know each student as an individual in order to comprehend his or her unique needs, learning style, social and cultural background. It is important for an education to understand and help address the challenges that students face – in and out of the classroom....
Washingtonian - DC Mayor Bowser Wants Kids Back in School on November 9
The Washington Post - An argument for reopening D.C.’s schools
The Washington Post - D.C. says 20,000 students started the enrollment process, but did not complete it
The Washington Times - D.C. area schools seek to protect students' privacy online
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
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
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.