- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2020

The D.C. Public Schools system is starting to allow some students back into buildings to use services offered at student support centers and to participate in career and technical education programs through October.

Ballou STAY High School on Monday became the first DCPS building to welcome students back for cosmetology and barbering programs.

Bancroft Elementary School, Cardozo Education Campus, Eastern High School, Kimball Elementary School, Kramer Middle School, Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School, Mann Elementary School, Noyes Elementary School, Tyler Elementary School, Phelps ACE High School, Roosevelt High School and Roosevelt STAY also will open over the next few days and weeks.

All learning for DCPS students is taking place online for the first term, but the student support centers at the selected schools will open for small group, in-person programs, which could include tutoring, physical education, outdoor learning experiences and social emotional support.

DCPS Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee told reporters Monday that the selected schools are equipped to handle COVID-19.



“There is an operational and safety review of each school student support center’s plan before a school moves forward with implementation of their supports, which is one of the reasons why there is a staggered opening to our student support centers, because there is time needed for that review process,” he said.

The number of students served at the support centers will vary by school, but could average about 20 to 50 students a day. A program could include 20 to 100 students overall. Staff at the centers have volunteered to offer their services, according to Mr. Ferebee.

Officials also are working to update HVAC systems at public schools, with priority given to elementary schools, to get ready for in-person learning. Contractors will upgrade filters at all 80 elementary schools, 24 of which have open work orders for their HVAC systems, according to DCPS.

Last month, all DCPS students began the school year fully online and will continue remote learning through Nov. 6.

To prepare for students returning to classrooms, Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn said he interviewed 18 independent and public charter schools that have reopened for some in-person learning or support services. He did not identify the schools, citing privacy concerns.

Initial interview results found that staggered arrivals and dismissals for different cohorts of students was beneficial, conducting temperature checks for students and staff eased anxiety, and allotting time outdoors for screen and mask breaks was helpful but made enforcing physical distancing harder, among other feedback.

Under phase two of reopening, which the District entered June 22, schools are allowed to offer in-person learning. But D.C. officials opted to have students complete the fall term online. Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she thinks DCPS can and should do in-person small group learning.

City officials are modifying phase two by gradually allowing more places to open.

The Department of Parks and Recreation is reopening 29 recreation centers, including six indoor pools, for fall programs and other limited services on Oct. 13. Registration for fall programs will open at 9 a.m. Thursday at dpr.dc.gov.

Residents will be able to make reservations to use fitness equipment at the following recreation centers: Banneker, Columbia Heights Community Center, Palisades, Riggs-LaSalle, Fort Stevens, Raymond, Emery, Turkey Thicket, Trinidad, Edgewood, Sherwood, Benning Stoddert, Deanwood, Ridge Road, Kenilworth, Barry Farm, Bald Eagle, Fort Stanton and the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center.

The District also has launched a phase two live entertainment pilot. City Winery, GALA Hispanic Theatre, The Hamilton, the Kennedy Center, Pearl Street Warehouse and Union Stage can host indoor live entertainment under the pilot program, which runs through Oct. 30.

Eight organizations have been asked to resubmit plans for outdoor entertainment: Adams Morgan Partnership BID, Arena Stage, Busboys and Poets, Capitol Riverfront BID, District Wharf, Et Voila Restaurant, Heist Group at The Kennedy Center and The Bullpen.

On Nov. 9, leaf collection will begin. This year, the Department of Public Works is requiring residents to bag their leaves so that staffers can practice social distancing. DPW will distribute 20 paper bags to each household beginning Oct. 30. There is no limit for the number of paper bags that can be left for pick up.

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