By Thomas Catenacci –
Washington, D.C. Public Schools canceled its safe school reopening plan Monday after the city’s teachers’ union voted “no confidence” in the plan and encouraged members to take Monday off as a “mental health day.”
Washington, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) announced Monday that it would “adjust” its reopening timeline, further delaying a return to in-person instruction. More than 90% of Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) members submitted a vote of “no confidence” in the city’s plans last week, according to a Monday press release.
“While DCPS planned to offer in-person learning at the start of Term 2 for select elementary school students, this timeline will need to be adjusted,” DCPS tweeted. “This means all students in grades PK-12 will now begin Term 2 on Monday, November 9 with learning at home.”
DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee announced in October that public schools would begin some in-person instruction on Nov. 9, according to WTOP News. The plan called for students who were most at-risk, such as those experiencing homelessness and those with special needs, to be the first with access to in-person schooling.
While DCPS planned to offer in-person learning at the start of Term 2 for select elementary school students, this timeline will need to be adjusted. This means all students in grades PK-12 will now begin Term 2 on Monday, November 9 with learning at home.
— DC Public Schools (@dcpublicschools) November 2, 2020
“Learning at home has been positive for many of our students,” Ferebee said, WTOP reported. “However, we also know at this time that learning at home is not working for every student, and we particularly know that our youngest learners have been the most challenged.”
On Thursday, WTU members overwhelmingly voted against the reopening plan in a vote of “no confidence,” the union announced. WTU said that the city’s plans should be revised to increase opportunities for underprivileged students to return to school and to allow teachers decide if they’d like to return or not.
“We do not have faith that the DCPS plans to reopen our schools are in the best interest of students,” WTU President Elizabeth Davis said. “The Chancellor’s plan to reopen our schools to in-person learning will disrupt the education of a vast majority of DCPS students.”
“As educators, we do not believe this plan is good for our students or good for our schools,” Davis continued.
WTU also encouraged its members to take a “Mental Health Day” on Monday, according to Fox affiliate WTTG-TV.
The city had planned for students from pre-K through grade five to return to school by Nov. 30, WTOP reported. After Monday’s announcement, the plan moving forward is unknown.
“We commit to supporting our students, families, teachers, and staff in our urgent mission to safely reopen schools,” DCPS tweeted. “We have heard feedback from many in our community about #ReopenStrong plans, and we will use this moment to adjust our timeline and staffing plans for reopening.”
WTU represents more than 5,000 active and retired teachers, according to the union’s Monday press release.
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