Note: we could not find a publicly available list of all of the Committee members’ emails. We found as many as we could. Please share with the full Committee. Thank you.
Dear Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Reopen DC Committee: Education and Child Care,
On behalf of the 203 parents and community members who signed, please accept the attached letter. It contains over 30 questions across topic areas including safe and healthy learning, facilities, and more, all with a focus on equity. We hope that you will consider and share feedback on these issues as you develop your report and plans.
Parents, educators, and students are all critically important partners in this work. We must listen and learn from one another in order to succeed – especially in a time of crisis. Families know this and are ready, as always, to help and share our thoughts.
As parents signed the letter, they also raised the additional ideas and questions below. This important ongoing feedback underscored why it is so critical that the stakeholders that are most impacted by these decisions be at the table. We believe these should be considered too:
- Work Security. How will we ensure that security guards, janitorial staff, kitchen workers who are essential staff and vital elements to school operations are able to maintain employment even if they or a close relative are affected by COVID-19?
- Nurses. How will we ensure that if schools are open for in-person learning there is a nurse on site in every school?
- Special Education. How will we ensure that the specific needs of students with disabilities are met? How will districts address IEP requirements during remote and hybrid arrangements? How will we address social distancing for students who require hands-on assistance or aides? How will we ensure the compatibility of online platforms with assistive technology?
Importantly, this work is not yet done. We must continue to reach out to those parents not yet heard from. We hope that as you develop your report, you recommend that dialogue and feedback continue through the Pandemic and that the full spectrum of stakeholders be included. Only then will we be sure that all issues and perspectives are being heard and addressed.
Thank you for your consideration.
Danica Petroshius on behalf of all of the signees
Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization (W6PSPO) Meeting Notes
April 9, 2020 – via Zoom
- Sonja Walti, Jefferson Academy and School Without Walls
- Danica Petroshius, Capitol Hill Montessori@Logan
- Jessica Sutter, State Board of Education Ward 6
- Grace Hu, Amidon-Bowen, @Digital Equity in DC Education
- Valerie Jablow, Duke Ellington
- George Blackmon, Maury
- Amy and Joe Weedon, Eliot-Hine and School Without Walls
- Elsa Falkenberg, Tyler
- Sandra Moscoso, Capitol Hill Montessori@Logan and School Without Walls
- Suzanne Wells
We learned from Grace Hu that DCPS made the decision to release devices to students who don’t have access to technology at home. They have been releasing devices to high school students first, middle school students who haven’t already received devices from schools should begin receiving them next week, and elementary students will be after middle school students. DCPS has purchased 10K wifi hotspots that are being distributed to schools, and then to students who need them.
The ~16K devices DCPS has to release are not all at the locations where they are needed. Decisions have been made to shift devices from schools with low demand for devices to schools with high demand. Principals/teachers have best handle on which students need devices. There is no city-wide estimate right now on the exact number of devices that are needed, but it is expected more than the ~16K devices will be needed. Private fundraising may fill gaps. PTAs/PTOs may fill gaps. DCPS has talked with Amazon about providing e-readers, but outcome of this discussion is unknown.
Jessica Sutter shared the DME is having daily calls to discuss digital divide and other education issues. Notes from the calls are publicly available.
Distance Learning and Communication
DCPS, principals and teachers have done an amazing job of shifting to on-line learning. There is much to be learned, and much to be improved, but the effort everyone is making is to be commended.
DCPS is using the Office 365 software, and Teams learning management product. Some schools are finding that individual teachers are using other software platforms as everyone gets up to speed with Office 365.
It is recognized there are some students who are going to need support possibly beyond their family to use the devices, navigate the software, and learn when/how to access school work. Schools are going to need multiple tools in hand to meet multiple needs, e.g., some schools may still need paper packets to give out to families for a period of time.
Students and parents are finding it sometimes to be challenging getting assignments from multiple platforms at different times from different people. Sonja Walti shared from her professional experience that with on-line learning uniformity, consistency and regularity are key to making the on-line learning experience work.
Parents are observing when a large part of a class is on-line together, the teacher has to learn “on-line classroom management,” techniques.
Schools are finding it is challenging to keep families feeling a part of something during this time. Some things that parents have found to work are:
- Zoom meetings with individual classes
- Virtual mom’s and dad’s nights out over zoom
- Zoom meetings with Principals and entire school
- Anacostia HS is planning a virtual block party
Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up, and we know we want to do something special to recognize teachers for what they’ve done.
Need to think about special ways to recognize promotion ceremonies that students graduating from K to 1st grade, elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, and high school will likely miss in person.
DCPS has said there is going to be a hiring freeze for positions except for teachers and principals.
Little detail is currently known about impacts to current and next year’s budgets. We believe it is important to keep the LSAT’s engaged in budget decisions so that the decisions are informed by family needs.
Sandra said DCPS is exploring on-line registration this year.
Some schools are starting to have virtual playdates or other connections with incoming SY20/21 families.
Sonja expressed concern that planned efforts to increase enrollment are not likely to happen, and how can school budgets be protected.
Grace said the Office of Teaching and Learning (Karen Cole) is looking for feedback on distance learning. Melody Molinoff with the W3 Education Council is working on their own survey. W6PSPO should contact Melody, and share what we learned from our survey and this meeting’s discussion.
Valerie discussed the need to support teachers to be sure they are able to get support during this #StayHomeDC time when they can’t collaborate the same way they normally do with their colleagues.
We discussed the need to take the pressure off teachers with the merit evaluations. While it is important to learn how teachers are adjusting to on-line learning, it should be a time to do just that, learn how to do on-line learning better, but not a time to focus on performance evaluations.
Please continue to share your challenges and how you are addressing them by adding comments to this google slide. We will monitor and keep this up to date. Add links when possible. Thx!
- Grace Hu is interested in receiving feedback from schools on how the device distribution is going.
- W6PSPO needs to connect with the Ward 3 Education Council and the Office of Teaching and Learning to provide feedback from our survey and how the on-line learning is going with a goal of sharing lessons learned. We want to emphasize uniformity, consistency and regularity. (Suzanne & Grace lead)
- We all need to share ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week, and how we can be advocates for teachers.
- We all need to share ideas to promotion activities.
- We need to advocate for LSAT involvement in upcoming budget decisions.
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Please stay tuned for a new date….
March 17, 6:30-8:00 pm
Jefferson Middle School Academy, 801 7th Street SW
Do you want to learn more about Ward 6 middle schools and how we can support them as parents and community members? Join us for a panel discussion featuring principals from the following schools:
- Capitol Hill Montessori
- Cardozo Education Campus
- Eliot-Hine Middle School
- Jefferson Middle School Academy
- Stuart-Hobson Middle School
For questions about the event, please e-mail email@example.com.