Council of the District of Columbia
Committee of the Whole Public Oversight Roundtable
Statement by Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President
Washington Teachers' Union
on the Re-Opening District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and District of Columbia Public Charter Schools (DCPCS) for School Year 2021-2022
Good afternoon. I am Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU).
Everyone is anxious for schools to reopen this fall. After more than a year of being away from our school buildings because of the public health pandemic, it’s imperative that students and teachers get back to school.
Our schools must fully reopen.
But my worst fear is that we fail to protect our youths and our community from the still-deadly coronavirus, especially with the surge of the Delta variant and the emerging Epsilon variant of the disease in our communities. We must ensure protections are in place to prevent students from being exposed and potentially carrying the disease back into their family.
And, we must also prevent disruptions to learning, including when a student is exposed to the virus and will be required to quarantine at home. This is hard on everyone – the student, their families, and our teachers – and it creates tremendous disruptions to learning and student mental health. The last thing that educators want to do is see a student sent home, or for a classroom or our schools close again.
Today, as I sit here before you, I do not believe that we have done enough to protect our students from the coronavirus. We can do more to help prevent exposure in our schools.