Alexandra Simbana Testimony – DC Council Roundtable on School Facility Conditions During Reopening for SY2022 – September 28, 2021

Alexandra Simbana

Committee on Government Operations and Facilities & Committee of the Whole

Joint Public Oversight Hearing –

School Facility Condition During the Re-Opening for SY2021-2022

September 28, 2021

Hello, my name is Natalie Rose Simbana Leistikow. I am here before the Council again to let you know what is happening with students and teachers throughout the City. First, I want to say that it is because I’ve had excellent teachers at Cleveland Elementary that I’ve been able to learn the skills to come before you and speak up for students since I was very young.

Like all teachers, my teachers are dedicated, loving professionals and during this time of uncertainty of the pandemic they have given more and done more because they love their students. It is for them, that I am here facing one of my fears and speaking publicly.

My teachers are having to do their jobs without proper resources and in conditions that no one here would find sustainable. They prepared to welcome students back to school but their buildings were not ready, many throughout the city did not have proper HVAC or filtration systems making their rooms very HOT and unsafe! One of my former teachers even had nosebleeds as she tried to prepare her room in extreme heat. The schools were closed for over a year, so we knew students would need to return at some point. The buildings should have been prepared for them before school started.

Many schools do not have the technology they need for teachers AND students! Schools without enough computers are sharing devices and once again, students are having to take time out of learning so each person in the class can do some work on the computer. Even more stressful is that teachers do not have their teacher computers either. And many more do not have working Smartboards. Where are all the computers? We are not setting up our teachers for success and that hurts them and it hurts us too.

While I have not yet been to school in person, I care about my school, my teachers and my classmates. But this is about more than just my school or my class. Imagine I am a student from a school in your Ward in any part of the City. No school teacher, student or community should be experiencing these issues when it is already a stressful time. PTA’s and PTO’s no longer have the time or money to help fix these critical needs and they shouldn’t have to.

This is too much to expect from families, students and teachers. There should be a better system to REALLY help fix technology and school problems for us. I hope you can do something to help.

Thank you.

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