The slow march back to in-person teaching stretched around Dunbar High School Monday afternoon.
Hundreds of teachers and staff of D.C. Public Schools patiently waited for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, a shot that could provide extra security against the virus and a little peace of mind for educators eager to get their kids learning again.
“I feel like I can focus more on teaching and less on just being stressed all the time,” Emily Harden, a kindergarten teacher, said. “Obviously we’ll still keep all our safety precautions in place, but it just feels good not to have it looming over you all the time.”
Harden spent nearly two hours in line. DCPS officials said it wasn’t an indication of an unorganized process, but instead, evidence that a bulk of the District’s educators are doing whatever it takes to get back into the classroom.
“I’m a DCPS parent myself. My son is a 4th grader. This just shows that there are a lot of people who want to do the right thing and get back and help,” Pankaj Rayamajhi, the director of operations at Columbia Heights Education Campus, said.
Despite their willingness to roll up their sleeves, the president of the Washington Teacher’s Union, Elizabeth Davis, said the union and DCPS must continue to work together to improve mitigation strategies and communication.
“When Covid cases break out in a school we can’t have long delays of reporting that information to the staff or to the parents or to the community,” Davis said. “That’s a recipe for disaster.”
She admits, however, that this is slow and steady progress in the right direction.
“If being vaccinated also helps me not be someone who can transmit to the kids and their families, that’s really important,” Kate Gerard, an elementary school math teacher, said.