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 coronavirus.dc.gov. 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: https://www.aft.org/coronavirus


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