Statement on Release of Computers

March 25, 2020

For more information contact:

Joe Weedon, 202-277-9410


WTU Urges DCPS to Release Laptops to All Students in Need


WASHINGTON -- The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) President Elizabeth A. Davis issued the following statement today.

“The WTU’s top priority during this public health crisis is the safety of our city’s teachers and students. However, as we enter this new and uncharted territory, teachers across the city are increasingly concerned about the digital divide that plagues our city.

“DCPS must act TODAY to ensure all students, in all grades, have access to computers as we embark on Distance Learning across the District. We urge the Mayor and DCPS to act immediately to ensure widespread access to computers for all families in need by expanding device distribution to include Middle and Elementary school students.

“In the coming days, public health experts expect the crisis facing our nation to grow. Each day that we delay is another day that students will go without access to their lessons and interactions with their teachers and potentially undermine efforts to distribute them.

“We recognize that there are additional barriers that must be overcome during this crisis. The distribution of laptops will not solve all our concerns. We are working with local TV stations as well as DCPS to make video lessons available to students and their families, and we must also identify ways to further expand Wi-Fi access to all students.

“The gaps that have become apparent across our city during this crisis are not new. We have long known that they have existed. They impact the achievement of our students and the success of our teachers and schools. As we emerge from this crisis, we hope to work with our city’s elected leadership to re-examine the impact of the digital divide and opportunity gaps on our students, reform our teacher evaluation and school accountability metrics to de-emphasize federally-mandated standardized tests that reflect these gaps, and to prioritize reforms to close the achievement gaps that plague our public schools.

“We encourage all families and community members to follow the advice of local public health agencies during this crisis. The latest updates, including locations where students can obtain free meals, are available at”

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Member Update - March 18

We want to Thank everyone who was able to join us for a chat with President Davis on Monday evening. At the peak of the call, we had over 400 people on the line. We’ll host additional Virtual Town Halls as the situation requires. Yesterday, we compiled the information we received via text, email and on the call and shared a list of topics we discussed with DC Public Schools officials. Today, we want to share that information with you. We encourage you to continue to share your questions and concerns with us via email at or contact your Field Rep.

We have a(nother) short survey we’d like you to complete to help us understand the challenges that you’ll face as we move to Distance Learning on Tuesday, March 24. Please click here:


The Access Gap

Our top priority during this public health crisis is your health and that of our community. However, we also want to ensure that instruction can continue and that we support teachers & students in this transition. We know that many of our students will lack computers and internet access (Comcast has made internet access available, free in many cases). If you identify a student or family in need of a computer or internet access (Comcast has made internet access available, free in many cases), please email your school and the grade of the student to We want to ensure that DCPS and our city’s elected officials are aware of the needs and that Distance Learning doesn’t increase our city’s achievement gaps.




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Virtual Resources for Distance Learning

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Morning Brew - March 16, 2020

This is a tough time for all. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented and devastating impact around the world. The District has declared of a State of Emergency giving the Mayor wide latitude to close government offices and schools. DC Public Schools’ (DCPS) has developed a plan to modify operations through Tuesday, March 31.

The health of our teachers and our community is our utmost concern during this crisis. We have been in continual conversation with the Chancellor and have requested that the Chancellor cancel tomorrow's Professional Development in light of recent CDC guidance limiting gatherings of 50 or more individuals as well as reports that at least one DCPS teacher has been exposed to the virus. The WTU encourages all teachers to ensure they put the health and safety of themselves and their families first as they consider whether or not to report for tomorrow's PD sessions.

We are also working with DC Public Schools to clarify the expectations for School-Based Employees over for the period of Distance Learning that begins on March 24. Last Friday, we sent a letter to the Chancellor asking for clarification on numerous issues including:

·       Concerns about needing to report to schools that have not been deeply cleaned on Monday, March 16 (we have since called for PD to be cancelled or for provisions to be made for teachers to attend remotely);

·       Access to Distance Learning tools and resources as well as concerns that many students will lack needed technology and internet access;

·       The lack of a process and timeline for developing clear expectations for teachers, in partnership with the WTU, for any period of Distance Learning; and

·       The unilateral decision to move Spring Break without prior engagement with teachers or the WTU.

The WTU is concerned that disruptions in instruction and disparities in access to technology will create uneven results on standardized testing due to occur later in the Spring. As such, we have recommended that DC suspends PARCC testing and that tests are not used for school accountability and teacher evaluations for the coming year.

We’ll continue to share information as it becomes available and encourage you to be in communication with your Building Representatives and Field Representatives if you have any questions or concerns. 

We urge you to follow the advice of health professionals. Many resources, including information about how to protect yourself and your family, are available on The symptoms that are currently being seen with coronavirus (COVID-19) are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you experience the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or have reason to believe you have been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19), call your healthcare provider before visiting a healthcare facility.

AFT Resources on the coronavirus are available here:

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Virtual Tools and Resources for Distance Learning

Virtual Tools and Resources for Distance Learning


Please join WTU Professional Development Coordinator Sarah Elwell for a virtual session via Zoom that explores virtual tools and resources that can be used for distance learning and communicating with students and families in the event of a school shutdown.


Time: Mar 14, 2020 11:00 AM


Join Zoom Meeting:




Time: Mar 16, 2020 09:00 AM


Join Zoom Meeting:




Time: Mar 16, 2020 06:00 PM


Join Zoom Meeting:



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COVID - 19 -- Specialized Cleaning

Specialized Cleaning


In addition to current cleaning activities routinely carried out by DCPS custodians, specialized cleaning is being performed daily.  Enhanced routines include:


·       Increased attention to cleaning all frequently touched surfaces in common areas and restrooms, including but not limited to doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, tables, sink faucets, toilets, chairs, and any other hard surfaces in common areas.

·       Disinfection of each cleaned surface, such as through the use of a disinfectant spray, after cleaning.

·       Use of CDC-recommended products.


Each school has a designated individual who oversees operations. Please contact this individual or your Building Representative if you have any concerns regarding supplies, sink functionality, or other issues that may prohibit the proper washing of hands.


For any questions about COVID-19, DCPS encourages you to visit, which includes information from DC Health. Questions may also be directed to

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COVID - 19 -- Share My Lesson

Share My Lesson – from the AFT


To help you prepare for possible school closures, Share My Lesson launched a new community for educators, school staff, parents and community members to find and share ideas, tips, resources and free lessons. This Remote Learning Community has content on the coronavirus, learning-at-home lesson plans for teachers and parents, and resources on social-emotional learning, mental health and trauma-informed practices.


In this online community, you can:

Finally, the AFT just published an important checklist of questions you should ask your school or school district now to ensure everyone is prepared for distance learning. This checklist covers important questions on topics such as technology access, preparation and training, and technology support for English language learners and for students with disabilities. Use this checklist to ensure your school, students and parents are prepared.




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WTU Professional Development CANCELLED through March 0

The health of our students and staff remain our top concern. As such, all WTU sponsored Professional Development will be cancelled through Friday, March 20, including the special PD sessions for Flagway Games and Equity.

We'll review information and recommendations from local health authorities and determine early next week whether classes can resume on Saturday, March 21.


You can still register for Spring Professional Development Courses here. WTU’s professional development courses are all research-based, peer-to-peer and solution-driven. They all help teachers build content knowledge and mastery of pedagogical strategies.

If you have questions, please contact Sarah Elwell at

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