- The Washington Times - Monday, November 2, 2020

D.C. Public Schools announced Monday that elementary school students will not return to in-person instruction next week as originally planned.

“We have heard feedback from many in our community about #ReopenStrong plans, and we will use this moment to adjust our timeline and staffing plans for reopening,” Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee said in an email sent to parents on Monday.

Under the initial plan, students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade were randomly selected to have the option to return to school in-person starting Nov. 9, and those with the “highest needs” were prioritized.

Those chosen were given two in-person instruction options, including being taught in-person by a teacher or virtually in a student “Canvas Academics and Real Engagement” classroom supervised by a staff member. The Chancellor’s email states that the revised plan will begin with opening CARE classrooms “as soon as staffing plans are confirmed.”

The decision comes as some Washington Teachers Union (WTU) members took a mental health day on Monday, and an afternoon protest over the reopening plan was scheduled outside School Without Walls at Francis Stevens. Union spokesman Joe Weedon said in an email that the protest is still happening and the union did not yet have a comment on DCPS’ decision.

The WTU cast a vote of no confidence on the reopening plan last week after DCPS was ordered by a labor board to “commence bargaining” with the union on the plan.

Union members and parents have argued the plan fails to accommodate students who need the most support and will disrupt schools as staff are reassigned to CARE classrooms.

DCPS and Mayor Muriel Bowser will hold a virtual community town hall on return plans Wednesday at 5 p.m.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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