Washington DC Teachers, School Leaders, and Nurses Visit Schools
Release Statement on City’s Planning to Reopen Schools for In-Person Instruction
WASHINGTON — The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) President Elizabeth Davis, Council of School Officers (CSO) President Richard Jackson, and DC Nurses Association (DCNA) Executive Director Edward J. Smith released the following statement on the city’s planning to reopen schools for in-person instruction.
“‘You can only move at the rate of trust.” These were the words of Chancellor Ferebee in the days leading up to his confirmation as DCPS Chancellor. During a global health pandemic, there is no greater truth. If our school leaders, teachers, nurses and students do not feel safe and heard during this trying time in our nation’s history, we cannot expect to have a successful return to in-person learning across the District of Columbia. Furthermore, the failure to follow the guidance of health professionals and ensure adequate protections for our school-based staff and students will result in the continued spread of COVID-19 in our community, likely with deadly consequences.
“We sympathize with the many teachers, nurses, school leaders, and, most importantly, families who long for a return to our school buildings; however, we have not seen significant progress in our buildings or detailed information from the Mayor’s office or DC Public Schools to believe that our schools can safely reopen for in-person learning without creating a substantial health risk for our community. Nor have we seen the detailed plans for the school openings announced today.
“The Washington Teachers’ Union, Council of School Officers and DCNA echo the concerns put forth by Councilmembers Robert White (At-Large), Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), Mary Cheh (Ward 3), and Trayon White (Ward 8) to the Mayor last week: “a full transition to in-person education cannot happen until we take further steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.” The WTU, CSO and DCNA also echo the Councilmembers calls for clear standards and protocols to safeguard our students and staff when they enter our buildings and a full, transparent, analysis of building ventilation and safe and adequate nursing suites.
“With the Mayor’s announcement today of her plans to move forward with the reopening of select schools and plans to move forward with a full reopening in November, we call upon her administration and DC Public Schools officials to work with school leaders, teachers, nurses and the community to create a detailed plan for how they plan to safely reopen our schools, while ensuring that we are following national and local health department guidance.
“To move forward with plans to reopen our schools to in-person learning in the coming days or weeks without a detailed public plan and robust community engagement will set our schools and students up for failure. We once again call for the Council to step in to ensure that our community can be safe should the Mayor decide to move forward with her plans to reopen our schools to in-person learning.”
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You can download the statement here.