D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee on Friday said the district “has the right to determine” which teachers should return to school in-person unless they meet certain criteria.
“If there are pre-existing health conditions or circumstances in line with (Coronavirus, Aid, and Economic Security) Act or other leave provisions we will honor that,” he said during a D.C. Council public hearing. “If you do not qualify for any of those provisions, we cannot simply say to you that you come to work [only] if you want to.”
Mr. Ferebee said that the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) wants teachers to determine “whether they come to work in-person or not” and the district is “not gonna agree to that.”
The issue is one of two final topics being discussed by the district and the (WTU) since the Public Employee Relations Board ruled Tuesday that DCPS had five days to bargain on reopening plans related to “health and safety matters.”
The other issue is the union wants people “outside of D.C. government” to decide if a school should reopen, which Mr. Ferebee said DCPS will not agree to.
Under the current “Reopen Strong” plan, students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade will be randomly selected to have the option to return to school in-person starting Nov. 9. The process reportedly will prioritize students who are designated as “at-risk,” experiencing homelessness, enrolled in special education, English language learners or siblings.
The District will also offer two at-school instruction options, which include being taught in-person by a teacher or virtually in a student “Canvas Academics and Real Engagement” classroom supervised by a non-instructional staff member. One teacher per grade level will teach in-person.