Sandra Moscoso Testimony – DC Council Roundtable on DCPS and DCPCS School Reopening – September 21, 2021

Sandra Moscoso
Testimony

on behalf of the DC Open Government Coalition

September 21, 2021

Good afternoon Chairman and Councilmembers. I am Sandra Moscoso, a DC Public Schools (DCPS) parent and a Board Member of the DC Open Government Coalition (DCOGC). Today, I am providing testimony on behalf of the DCOGC highlighting the lack of transparency around DCPS safety measures, building readiness and Covid protocols for in person learning. 

On DCPS’ reopen website, they boast “more than $24 million in HVAC upgrades to improve filtration and ventilation in every DCPS building.” This is misleading, as in reality, in the weeks that led to reopening, we saw teachers across the city post shocking photos of stifling hot temperatures and classrooms with stagnant air. While DCPS deployed temporary spot cooling units in some cases, three weeks into the school year, we don’t know how many classrooms were impacted, or how many of those HVAC repairs are still outstanding.

  • The DC Department of General Services must make school building work orders public. This would go a long way towards helping DGS and Council hold contractors accountable with the help of communities directly affected by these classroom spaces.
  • Transparency around building health and safety is critical not only in the time of Covid and has been a long-term problem. Council cannot let this go any longer.

DCPS and DC Health are not following through on their own Covid protocols.

DC Health and OSSE/DCPS must collaborate and quickly develop a school level dashboard to reflect school level vaccination rates, testing, positive cases, exposures, and notifications (see a great example developed by a Ward 4 teacher). Council must use every tool available to make this happen. I have heard the Mayor, Dr Nesbit and the Chancellor call upon the community to support Covid efforts, yet we are not being given the information to do meaningfully. Every single school community member should be able to access critical school level data at the very least weekly: 

Vaccination Rates

  • Percent of staff vaccination rates by school 
  • % of eligible students vaccinated by school

Testing

  • # of staff asymptomatic tests conducted each week by school
  • # of staff positive results from asymptomatic tests by school
  • # of student symptomatic tests conducted each week by school
  • # of student positive results from symptomatic tests by school
  • # of student asymptomatic tests conducted each week by school
  • # of student positive results from asymptomatic tests by school
  • # of staff and # of student positive cases reported to DCPS (outside of symptomatic tests) by school

Notifications

  • # of exposure notifications sent to staff each week by school
  • # of exposure notifications sent to families each week by school

Quarantine

  • # of exposure notifications sent to staff each week by school
  • # of exposure notifications sent to families each week by school

While the above is a request for DCPS transparency, it’s important that we recognize there are many families who currently have students enrolled in DCPS and in DC public charter schools. Transparency must apply to both sectors, and all schools.

Finally, as a parent I want to fully express support for the sensible safety measures and call for virtual learning for those who want it, that “DC Families for COVID-Safer Schools” have proposed. 

Every day, families are being asked to trust DC government with our lives by forcing students into school buildings during a pandemic. However, DC government refuses to trust us with critical information about the state of health and safety within those buildings. 

I reiterate and implore you to protect us all by leveraging every tool available to Council to bring transparency to DCPS reopening.

Thank you for your time.

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