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.”
# # #
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.
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.
Some of their concerns follow:Read more
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.