- The Washington Times
Friday, November 20, 2020

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee said Friday only 50% of the students signed up to return to in-person showed up this week, according to a local journalist.

About 200 of the expected 400 students came back to “Canvas Academics and Real Engagement” (CARE) classrooms, NBC4 reporter Mark Segraves tweeted.

“We did have families that had to complete their vaccinations before students could be back on campus,” the chancellor said, according to Mr. Segraves’ Twitter account.

Children learn virtually in the CARE classrooms under supervision from a non-instructional staff member. Over 50 of the classrooms opened Wednesday at 29 schools with the capacity to serve 600 children, and more are expected to open in coming months.

When the schools reopened, the District also launched a coronavirus data tracker through D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s government website. The most recent data posted Thursday shows zero cases reported for DCPS “Personnel Working In-Person” and “Students Participating in In-Person Activities.”

Earlier this week, Washington Teachers’ Union President Elizabeth Davis refused to sign off on a tentative memorandum of agreement with DCPS to return to in-person learning.

Ms. Davis said DCPS had not shared the full list of schools reopening, and building inspections for safety were done “prior to all work having been completed.”

She added that the union wants a provision under which staff are allowed to choose whether or not to return in person to be extended past the second quarter. The plan currently calls for those who do not have exemptions to return if the demand for in-person learning exceeds the number of teachers who volunteer to go back in the third and fourth quarters.

The school system was ordered by a labor board to begin bargaining with the union last month. Although DCPS does not need union approval to move forward with reopening, the District halted plans last week to return nearly 7,000 children to elementary classrooms after the teachers’ union cast a no-confidence vote on the proposal.

The decision to bring students back comes as the District is seeing a rise in cases. The day before schools reopened, health officials reported 245 new cases, the second-highest daily case rate since May.

DCPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent Friday about the students’ return.

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