- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The president of the Washington Teachers’ Union refused Tuesday to approve a tentative memorandum of agreement with D.C. Public Schools to return to in-person learning.

Union President Elizabeth Davis‘ decision came as more than 50 classrooms at 29 schools were reopening Wednesday with the capacity to serve more than 600 students. The Canvas Academics and Real Engagement (CARE) classrooms will allow elementary students to learn virtually in a classroom supervised by a non-instructional staff member.

In an email statement Wednesday, Ms. Davis said the school district has not shared the full list of schools reopening, and building inspections for safety were done “prior to all work having been completed.”

DCPS reportedly has spent $31 million on safety measures, including $24 million for HVAC upgrades, $4.5 million for “building readiness” and $3.6 million for personal protective equipment.

“We believe our city’s first priority must be safety. And the only way to build safety is through communication and trust. DCPS has fallen short on these measures,” Ms. Davis said.

She added that the union wants a provision under which staff are allowed to choose whether or not to return in person to be extended past the second quarter. The plan currently calls for those who do not have exemptions to return if the demand for in-person learning exceeds the number of teachers who volunteer to go back in the third and fourth quarters.

“[W]e cannot move forward with an agreement that could force anyone, regardless of preexisting conditions or their living situations, back into an in-person classroom,” Ms. Davis said.

The school district was ordered by a labor board to begin bargaining with the union last month, and it plans to return nearly 7,000 children to elementary classrooms were halted last week after the teachers’ union cast a no-confidence vote on the proposal.

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