Petition: Make in-person learning available to all DCPS students


Mike Indovina <mikeindovina@...>
 


March 13 marks one year since DCPS closed schools. While a handful of students have returned to their classrooms, most remain virtual.  
 
Current guidelines are resulting in severe staff and space limitations for school administrators. Without changes to these guidelines, schools will not be able to accommodate more in person students during Advisory 4 nor next academic year.
 
Please sign this petition http://chng.it/m7MF6YYZ2W to urge DC government to make the needed changes so all students who want to return in person may do so.  Please also forward and share on social media.  

Let's hold the DC Government accountable to ReopenStrong!  
 
Mike Indovina   
DCPS Parent


Roslynn Posley
 

Hi,
 
As a teacher, I appreciate your desire to have students in class. However, I'd like to acknowledge that it's still very dangerous for teachers to constantly be interacting with so many students. Having the vaccine does not stop the virus from being spread via touch points. It keeps us as teachers safe but we still can't interact with family members because we might be carrying the virus on us in other ways.
 
Additionally, if you are a parent who is tired of helping your child with remote learning, are you too going back into work? Would you, if you could? If not, consider how teachers feel and take a deep breath. 
 
Roz 
Cleveland Park

- original message -
March 13 marks one year since DCPS closed schools. While a handful of students have returned to their classrooms, most remain virtual.  
Current guidelines are resulting in severe staff and space limitations for school administrators. Without changes to these guidelines, schools will not be able to accommodate more in person students during Advisory 4 nor next academic year.
Please sign this petition http://chng.it/m7MF6YYZ2W to urge DC government to make the needed changes so all students who want to return in person may do so.  Please also forward and share on social media.  
Let's hold the DC Government accountable to ReopenStrong!  


web26 data
 


Does this include 100% vaccination for those who desire, for all teachers and staff?
 
If not, this is just plain mean.
 
Teachers in some areas are being forced to choose between returning or quitting. Is that DC or just DMV? 
 
I'm a teacher.

Deborah 
Woodley Pl
--
D'vorah🐝 /deborahHF

- original message -
March 13 marks one year since DCPS closed schools. While a handful of students have returned to their classrooms, most remain virtual.  
Current guidelines are resulting in severe staff and space limitations for school administrators. Without changes to these guidelines, schools will not be able to accommodate more in person students during Advisory 4 nor next academic year.
Please sign this petition http://chng.it/m7MF6YYZ2W to urge DC government to make the needed changes so all students who want to return in person may do so.  Please also forward and share on social media.  
Let's hold the DC Government accountable to ReopenStrong!  


Martha Buckley
 


Whether or not you support this petition, it is important to consider the science and facts about teacher vaccination. 
 
-All DCPS teachers/staff that returned to school in term 3 have already been vaccinated (if they chose to). 
-All DCPS teachers that are slated to return in term 4 can sign up for vaccines on DC health (for DC residents) or in their state of residence.  
-If there is enough demand (schools adding classes in term 4), another mass vaccination of teachers could easily happen. The petition actually supports this.

Regarding the concern about transmitting to others even when vaccinated by "contact points", this risk can clearly be eliminated by taking common sense precautions. Science indicates that contact transmission is a small factor for COVID transmission. However, it is still recommended to wash hands after being in contact with others or common surfaces. Some folks even change their clothes or take showers after being in public (although experts agree this is overkill).  Therefore, common precautions certainly prevent a person/teacher from transmitting to family members via contact. A larger issue is the ~95% effectiveness of the vaccine and possible asymptomatic transmission to others, particularly if they have high risk family members. DCPS has in person exceptions for those at high risk or those who live with high risk individuals. 
 
I think DCPS has done quite well in treating teachers right regarding COVID precautions. We are still waiting for the WTU to show any interest in doing what is best for kids. 

Martha
--

- previous message -
Does this include 100% vaccination for those who desire, for all teachers and staff?
If not, this is just plain mean.
Teachers in some areas are being forced to choose between returning or quitting. Is that DC or just DMV? 
I'm a teacher.


Ariskelmys Brea
 


The desire to have in-person learning for all kids is filled with SO many holes its a very scary one. Not only are they not requiring the kids to be vaccinated but there is no control on who comes in and out of the schools. Only if you work at a DCPS school could you grasp the gravity of the situation staff is being put through. DCPS does not provide transportation to students so they have to use public transportation where we all know there is no reliable process to control virus spread. Our students mostly live in multi-generational households, this will in turn also put their family members at risk of contamination. Also staff family members. Before you get all fired up about having your kids back in school. spend a few days at the school. How are teachers supposed to enforce a mask mandate, or do you really believe kids do as they are told? If you do.... Then it explains a lot. The reality is very different... 
 
--
Ariskelmys


kathi sullivan
 


As a grandparent monitoring a grandchild’s learning, I have heard some talk from DC teachers. It is my understanding that teachers and at least assistants are being vaccinated. The numbers on this are hard to find and I wonder if any of the teachers here, could shed some light on this. Some children have returned to in class schooling,  but my impression is that this varies from school to school and I am unclear as to why this is.

While certainly some parents have their children being cared for by others so they can get their jobs done, not all are in this category, and I suspect most are not. Younger children require substantial assistant learning remotely. It would seem that older children might as well. This falls to parents who are trying to balance a full time job on their own. 

There does not seem to be any easy answers to this. Certainly everyone is suffering.

Kathi Sullivan


Martha Buckley
 

Dear Kathi,

Thank you for your mentoring of your grandchild. Without the support provided by people like yourself, families attending DCPS would be struggling even more. 
 
DCPS did offer a vaccine to all teachers who returned to school in term 3 (they have received both shots already).  
 
Regarding the reopening plan, DCPS tried to make a uniform system wide reopening plan in the Fall. The WTU pushed back on this plan and won. The compromise was to wait until term 3 to reopen schools and each school was allowed to develop their own reopening plan. I believe that this choice was both inefficient (why not come up with best practices for all schools) and provided excessive authority for principals to determine if and how schools reopen. While some schools in the area were able to offer slots to all or nearly all interested families by using creative models such as half day cohorts, some schools hardly reopened at all. 

At my children's elementary school, Hearst, only one in-person learning classroom opened in the entire school (a few CARES classrooms, mostly with mixed grade levels opened as well). 60% of parents wanted in-person learning slots, but less than 20% of kids got slots at Hearst, and only 11 of these slots were in an in person classroom with a teacher present.   
 
These are the reasons that you are continuing to supervise online school for your grandchild. I hope the very best to your grandchild!
 
Thanks,
Martha
 
- previous message -
As a grandparent monitoring a grandchild’s learning, I have heard some talk from DC teachers. It is my understanding that teachers and at least assistants are being vaccinated. The numbers on this are hard to find and I wonder if any of the teachers here, could shed some light on this. Some children have returned to in class schooling,  but my impression is that this varies from school to school and I am unclear as to why this is.
While certainly some parents have their children being cared for by others so they can get their jobs done, not all are in this category, and I suspect most are not. Younger children require substantial assistant learning remotely. It would seem that older children might as well. This falls to parents who are trying to balance a full time job on their own. 
There does not seem to be any easy answers to this. Certainly everyone is suffering.


Rebecca Yoskowitz
 


To address Roz's comments, I think it is really important to trust the science.

The virus is not transmitting on surfaces:  https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00251-4

"Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine appeared to prevent not only symptomatic disease, but asymptomatic infection as well, a real-world review of Israeli health records showed." https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/91350
 
The data coming out now indicates that people who are vaccinated are no longer carriers for the disease. Therefore, there seems that once teachers are 100% vaccinated we should return to full time, 5 day a week schooling. The effects of keeping kids out of school for a prolonged period of time are far reaching:

Thousands of students reported 'missing' from school systems nationwide amid COVID-19 pandemic: https://abcnews.go.com/US/thousands-students-reported-missing-school-systems-nationwide-amid/storyid=76063922&fbclid=IwAR2CK7CsvsSq6gyoVJbdXUHn2oMrKbe3Bc9Y4hPAvZbFdIynVQNj0XAs1E4

To be clear, I am not talking about my kids (who I pulled and put in a private program at great expense); my kids will be fine because I have the means. I am talking about the kids we are losing in the system, maybe forever. Equity is impossible until we get all kids back into school which for many is their safe haven from issues ranging from hunger to domestic violence.
 
My kid is at Hearst too and I am deeply concerned about the Fall. Today the government announced that they expect we will have enough vaccinations for all Americans by the end of May. We must return to 5 days a week of school for all kids by the Fall at the latest.  

Rebecca Yoskowitz 
 
Dear Kathi,
Thank you for your mentoring of your grandchild. Without the support provided by people like yourself, families attending DCPS would be struggling even more.
DCPS did offer a vaccine to all teachers who returned to school in term 3 (they have received both shots already).  
Regarding the reopening plan, DCPS tried to make a uniform system wide reopening plan in the Fall. The WTU pushed back on this plan and won. The compromise was to wait until term 3 to reopen schools and each school was allowed to develop their own reopening plan. I believe that this choice was both inefficient (why not come up with best practices for all schools) and provided excessive authority for principals to determine if and how schools reopen. While some schools in the area were able to offer slots to all or nearly all interested families by using creative models such as half day cohorts, some schools hardly reopened at all.
At my children's elementary school, Hearst, only one in-person learning classroom opened in the entire school (a few CARES classrooms, mostly with mixed grade levels opened as well). 60% of parents wanted in-person learning slots, but less than 20% of kids got slots at Hearst, and only 11 of these slots were in an in person classroom with a teacher present.  
These are the reasons that you are continuing to supervise online school for your grandchild. I hope the very best to your grandchild!


Kathleen D McLynn
 

This time last year, a DC Charter school teacher went home early one day because she wasn’t feeling well at all. Rather than getting better with rest, she became very ill and it lasted for weeks. It was COVID-19.

Unfortunately, contact tracing wasn’t up and running, and we weren’t testing for strains so whether or not she caught it at school is undetermined. Schools were closed shortly after this incident, so transmission in school was thwarted.

Her roommates prepared food for her and put it outside her door, but she remained alone in her room for weeks. The good news is that she survived & recovered, but young adults CAN get sick with this.

I am retired from teaching now but every year we had a bug or 3 sweep through school, several kids absent from this class, three from another, teachers sometimes got sick, too. Our school nurse reminded our whole community about hand washing, coughing into your elbow, etc. in the weekly newsletter. (Some bugs were even in the fecal-oral transmission bucket, TMI! stoppable by the most basic hygiene! Yet they spread, yuck.)

And the policy was to keep your kids home if they had a fever &/or were vomiting. Imagine being told quite solemnly, “My mom said not to tell you that I threw up in the car on the way to school.” But it isn’t the kid’s fault, right? And not to blame parents, either - as an empty nester, I have first hand experience with asking the heavens why this kid illness happened at this crucial work time.

The takeaway is that it is indeed not only possible for respiratory viruses to spread in a school, but common. This one is serious, most of us are not vaccinated, vaccines aren’t 100% and may not prevent transmission and we don’t even have a vaccine for kids yet.

We are accustomed to having access to health care, ready access to all sorts of supports and positive thinking is so useful, sometimes. Sometimes it isn’t enough.

Fun fact: at one point the schools plan was to only test people WITH symptoms, even though it has been established that asymptomatic people can transmit COVID.

When teachers tell us the schools need to up their game, classrooms need ventilation, safer spacing, barriers, PPE & vaccinations all around, they just might have relevant knowledge.

Kate


Amy B. Saltzman
 


This time last year, we did not have a vaccine, upgraded air filters in schools, sufficient tests, a plan for closures based on a positive test, the understanding that masks work to help stop the spread of COVID or the understanding that the virus really is not transmitted via touch. We've learned a lot in a year about how to manage transmission, and we've also seen that children (at least the children I'm observing here in the DC area) are capable of following mask rules. It's true there are still cases occurring in the area, but our numbers are down and numbers are WAY down nationwide. I'm not sure keeping schools closed because of past observed behaviors or because of knowledge we lacked a year ago is a reasonable thing to do.

Amy


Julia Mchenry
 


The vast majority of the country’s elementary schools have been back full time since the Fall, and those communities have not experienced increased spread as compared to communities that have kept schools closed. The factual data and the science and the experts state that schools are safe to open with at least 3’ distancing and masks. They also all state that surface contamination is not a realistic threat. Spread has not been occurring in schools around the country even prior to vaccines. With teachers being vaccinated, there is no rational reason not to open.

We are not “ tired of helping [our] child with remote learning”; we are tired of ineffective and subpar education for our children when there is no longer any justifiable reason for it.

Regards,
Julia McHenry


Medavisdc
 


How do you socially distance students in classrooms that are over-crowded?
 
Mary

- previous message -
This time last year, we did not have a vaccine, upgraded air filters in schools, sufficient tests, a plan for closures based on a positive test, the understanding that masks work to help stop the spread of COVID or the understanding that the virus really is not transmitted via touch. We've learned a lot in a year about how to manage transmission, and we've also seen that children (at least the children I'm observing here in the DC area) are capable of following mask rules. It's true there are still cases occurring in the area, but our numbers are down and numbers are WAY down nationwide. I'm not sure keeping schools closed because of past observed behaviors or because of knowledge we lacked a year ago is a reasonable thing to do.


Amy B. Saltzman
 


Consider A/B scheduling to split classes into smaller sizes, make use of alternate spaces at the school i.e. library, gym. Many schools in DC are already doing this.

Amy

- previous message -
How do you socially distance students in classrooms that are over-crowded?


Martha Buckley
 


The current DC Health Guideline is that there may be a maximum of 11 students in each class, and cohorts cannot mix, even outside on the playground.  ALL DCPS schools must abide by this guideline. 
11 students can hardly be called overcrowded. 

Martha
--
Martha W. Buckley
marthabuckley@...

- previous message -
How do you socially distance students in classrooms that are over-crowded? 


Katie Spellacy
 

Fully vaccinate all teachers and open schools.

I’m a DCPS teacher and a parent to three DCPS students who having been learning virtually since last March. Every day we do the best we can: I do my best for my students and my kids do their best to engage on-line with their teachers. It’s *not* great, but we try to focus on what’s going well and doing what we can to keep our community safe.

As a teacher assigned to stay virtual for Term 3, I was not offered a vaccine. I was fine with that because I didn’t want to take a vaccine from a colleague who was teaching in-person. (Keep in mind Term 3 in-person teachers were vaccinated 2-3 days before returning to the classroom—not safe based on science.) I assumed that once in-person teachers and school staff were vaccinated, all other teachers would be eligible so that we could prepare to more fully open in Term 4. That is NOT what is happening. As of today, there is not a plan to vaccinated “virtual” teachers and it makes absolutely zero sense. I can’t wait to go back to school and be with kids. Nor can I wait for my children to be back in school—they need it. But I won’t send my kids back until their teachers are safe. It’s not right.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why DC has not prioritized vaccines for all teachers and school staff so that we can open schools for more children in Term 4.

I also cannot understand the vitriol aimed at teachers. It is not our fault that as a community we have not prioritized children or schools. The energy so many put in to bashing the WTU and blaming teachers is wasted. It’s unproductive and deeply harmful to the future of public schools in our city. We should be working together hold elected officials and DCPS decision makers accountable for putting children first and making schools safe.

Katie


Martha Buckley
 

I was very saddened to see the previous e-mailThis is the type of rhetoric that is breaking the trust teachers (and in particular the WTU) have with parents. 
 
The WTU is preventing a return of most students to in person learning despite:
(1) all teachers teaching in person being vaccinated
(2) evidence that schools can operate safely
(3) Scientific evidence that kids DO NOT spread COVID nearly as much as adults. This is actually in contrast to the common cold and the flu where kids are transmitters. 
(4) stringent class size caps imposed by DC Health (11 kids)
(5) HVAC upgrades for all schools and hospital grade HEPA filters in each classroom
 
On top of this, now teachers are accusing parents of being irresponsible---that we would send our kids to school sick on purpose. Interestingly, very similar rhetoric (accusing parents of not following social distancing guidelines and sending their kids to school sick) was presented in protest to in person learning by a teacher at my kid's school, and I will let you know that this was incredibly hurtful to the school community. Do I believe that there have been isolated cases where kids have been sent to school sick with parent's knowledge? Absolutely. But the question here is whether these isolated events are playing any role in spreading COVID. I think not.   
 
How can teachers and parents work to get our kids back on track in their education when teachers are accusing families of being irresponsible?
 
Thanks,
Martha
--
Martha W. Buckley
marthabuckley@...


Amber Sparks
 

Hey all,

There are a lot of people sharing cherry-picked, and/or dubiously-sourced “info” right now to make political points about this petition, and bashing unions, which is a real shame when the goal of teachers who belong to the WTU is to make schools SAFE for you and your children and your families and their teachers. And their hard work and tough standards have resulted in many of the changes that HAVE been made, and HAVE enabled many schools to at least partially open safely for some of our students.

I for one support our teachers and their union and I don’t feel that I, as a parent, somehow magically have more information about guidelines and air filtration systems and vaccine availability than they do. I’d like schools to reopen completely, and I trust that DCPS and WTU will work together to make that happen.

It’s okay to disagree! Argument is good, up to a point. But at this point, it’s starting to feel like an excuse for open season on teachers and unions. And I don’t think this listserve is the appropriate place for that. Teachers are facing so much adversity this year already - I hate the thought that any of them are reading these posts. I hope they know that many of us parents do trust them and know they have our children’s best interests at heart, and that we value them as members of our communities and families and want THEM to be safe, too.

Amber Sparks


Kay Fanning
 

Hear hear, Amber! Here's to DC teachers!

Kay Fanning

- from previous message -
[snip]
I for one support our teachers and their union and I don’t feel that I, as a parent, somehow magically have more information about guidelines and air filtration systems and vaccine availability than they do. I’d like schools to reopen completely, and I trust that DCPS and WTU will work together to make that happen.
[snip]
I hope they know that many of us parents do trust them and know they have our children’s best interests at heart, and that we value them as members of our communities and families and want THEM to be safe, too.


Rebecca Yoskowitz
 

I don’t think there is any vitriol against teachers, I think we as parents have supported teachers. I think we can support teachers and also express the importance of getting kids back in person full time, especially now that vaccines are becoming more available.

My kids have been in a daycare that has been open safely since the summer and I think there is a lot of good data about how schools and educational facilities have been able to be open successfully.

I resent the implication that encouraging kids to be back in school somehow attacks teachers. Schools and teachers provide an essential service. Parents who have the means have been putting kids into private programs, pods or with tutors and this cannot and should not replace the educational institution that is public school. I want to support our teachers and I want to ensure that the institutions that provide this valuable service survive long after this fall when I believe we should be back full time.

Rebecca Yoskowitz


Medavisdc
 


If a class generally has 30-35 students and the class size is reduced to 11, where do you put the 20 or so extra students per class? There is only so much room in the cafeteria, library, and gym. And do you mix the grades? Logistically, how do you do it? And if one teacher's classroom is split into 2 or 3 classrooms, how does one teacher teach in two or three classrooms?
 
Mary

- previous message -
The current DC Health Guideline is that there may be a maximum of 11 students in each class, and cohorts cannot mix, even outside on the playground.  ALL DCPS schools must abide by this guideline. 
11 students can hardly be called overcrowded.