A group of teachers for D.C. Public Schools rallied over the weekend to voice their concerns about a plan to go back to in-person instruction in November.
School officials recently announced that D.C. elementary students in grades Pre-K through 5th grade would return to in-person learning starting Nov. 9.
"Through multiple layers, we are very confident that we’ll keep all of our students and staff protected and healthy,” DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said.
"The term two reopen plan gives families and students a false sense of hope for returning to our classrooms," one woman said at a rally Saturday at Ft. Reno Park.
“We have to think real seriously about how much risk were willing to put our kids in,” said Chisda Magid, a teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School.
Temperature checks, mandatory masks, sanitizing, and medical-grade air filtration with UV microbial protection are all part of the school system's plan to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
But some say the precaution of having teachers move so that students can stay put in those cleaner environments poses its own set of problems for instruction.
“Anybody who knows classroom management will tell you, having me go into somebody else’s room does not necessarily mean those kids are going to get what they need," Eaton Elementary School teacher Angelo Parodi said.
Schools will also have what they’re calling “care classrooms” in which students take virtual classes under the supervision of an adult.
Some teachers said they didn’t get enough input when the school system formulated its plan to return to the classroom.
“I love my babies. I've been teaching for 30 years. I love them to death, but I cant teach when I’m dead," Woodrow Wilson High School teacher Tina Bradshaw-Smith said.
Here's where we stand as the coronavirus continues to change our lives in D.C., Maryland and Virginia:
What the Data Shows
D.C. reported 36 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and no additional deaths. Maryland reported 530 more cases and no additional deaths. Virginia had 900 more total cases, some of which were probable but not confirmed.
The map below shows the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed per 100,000 residents.
Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia
COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- Most new COVID-19 cases in D.C. come from social events, according to data presented Wednesday by the District's health department.
- Montgomery County could roll back reopening after seeing an increase in infections.
- Five employees of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration tested positive for COVID-19 and one of them has died, officials say.
- The Fauquier County School Board expects 71% of its students back in classrooms as part of a hybrid learning plan starting Nov. 9.
- Child care capacity is expanding in Maryland under phase three, although Montgomery and Prince George's counties opted to remain at current operating levels.
- Gym goers in Arlington, Virginia, will soon take spin classes on an open air training terrace instead of peddling away indoors. Take a look at how it works.
- D.C. updated its list of states subject to travel restrictions because they're considered high risk due to coronavirus. The next updated list is set to be released Monday, Oct. 19.
- D.C. plans to have high school sports return in January.
- D.C. granted permission for six indoor venues to host performances. D.C. also granted permission for the Adams Morgan business improvement district to host outdoor movies.
- D.C.'s mayor extended the city's coronavirus state of emergency to last through the end of the year.
- Maryland child care providers can return to the full teacher-to-child ratios for which they are licensed, state officials said, and some nursing homes will be able to resume indoor visits.
- Montgomery and Prince George's counties are among those that did not enter phase three with the state of Maryland. Here's a roundup of counties in our area.
- Prince George's County will allow tanning salons, banquet halls and other businesses to open with restrictions. Officials recently adjusted some other rules too. Read more.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan authorized all public schools in the state to begin “safely” reopening because state metrics on the coronavirus show improvements. The state “strongly suggests” that local school districts bring students back into schools but cannot force them to do so, Hogan said. Montgomery and Prince George's schools both affirmed that they were not altering plans to hold classes online throughout the first half of the school year.
- Prince George's County revisited its phase two reopening executive order due to an uptick in coronavirus cases, according to the county executive's office.
- Virginia entered phase three reopening July 1, loosening restrictions on restaurants, stores, gyms and pools. Northam has said more restrictions could be implemented if cases continue to grow.
- D.C. entered phase two June 22, allowing indoor dining, gyms, libraries and houses of worship to reopen with restrictions.
- Montgomery County entered phase two June 19, reopening with restrictions gyms, houses of worship, indoor dining and retail.
How to Stay Safe
There are ways to lower your risk of catching coronavirus. Here are guidelines from the CDC:
- Anyone over the age of 2 should wear a mask or face covering. Keep it over your nose and mouth.
- Wash your hands often. When you do, scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. As a backup, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who lives outside your home. That means staying six feet away from anyone outside your circle, even if you're wearing masks.
- Always cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.