The D.C. Council passed emergency legislation Tuesday expanding the virtual learning option in schools -- a plan Mayor Muriel Bowser pushed back on, saying it goes against the best interests of students.
Since the school year began with full-time in-person learning, almost 200 D.C. Public Schools staff members and more than 500 students have tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in more than 1,000 students and teachers quarantining.
The D.C. Council voted to offer a virtual option to any student who is either at high risk or lives with someone who is at high risk for COVID-19.
Bowser sent a letter to the Council saying she was troubled and angered by the proposal.
Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn said the legislation is contrary to science, will be very disruptive to schools and has a very big cost to it.
“No school is able to stand up a bunch of additional seats for virtual students without having to hire more teachers, without having to revamp their curriculum, without offering more devices,” he said.
Before the Council passed the legislation, students had to have a doctor say virtual learning was a requirement. Now the doctor only has to say it is recommended that the student take classes remotely.
Because it is emergency legislation, it takes effect in 10 days, with or without Bowser’s approval. Then it is up to the Bowser administration to implement it.