Status

Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization (W6PSPO)

Virtual Meeting

May 7, 2020

1- Digital Equity in DC Education Update

  • DCPS has distributed ~8K devices.  Elementary school distributions happening this week.
  • Sent 2 pages of recommendations to DCPS. Asked for additional tech support; ensure curriculum includes picking up digital literacy skills
  • Wifi was set up in public spaces, not in public housing units
  • Pushing for analytical framework so there can be broader options at different price points
  • FY21 budget asks: DC Education Coalition for Change (DECC) trying to figure out – is there a way to advocate for federal funding

 

Q: sense on how many students still need laptops? When schools handout devices and hotspots they learn more about who needs them. Lacking good data on the full need. School principal shave a good sense of who needs them, but not down to the family level detail

Want DC gov now to start looking at options; if fed $ comes

 

2 – Re-Open DC Letter

  • 200+ signatures, based on ideas and Qs parents are asking about response to pandemic
  • Asked DME how groups are invited to participate, and stressed those most impacted need to be at the table. DME responded, but did not answer how ‘seats at the table’ are selected

3 – Re-Open DC Education and Child Care Committee

  • All input received has been taken into consideration
  • What got heard: families will be allowed to opt out
  • A lot of fear about bringing teachers and students back to school while there will be a lot of pressure on the schools to open up. 
    • Concern there can’t be a long-term phrase of mostly online learning 
    • Need to get students back to their communities and schools
    • Concerns; if we go back to school with social distancing, DCPS must take advantage of the space it has
    • Committee report now due May 15.  Committee members not likely to see report before it goes to the Mayor.
    • At what level is it prescriptive? How much does Department of Health determine and how much do LEAs? Will there be DoH on site to manage/watch over implementation of risk mitigators
  • Need to push DCPS to hear voice of parents who have to be at work, those struggling with digital learning, students who are ELL and those missing sense of community

Q: Education report goes to Mendelson/Rice/Fenty/ will form all the input into one doc.  Unclear who is doing the writing (Kihn, etc?)

  • Will there be consistent recommendations across sectors?
  • Acknowledgement that families should have right to make own decisions and schools should have the responsibility to connect with families
  • Not a lot of disagreement across what various groups submitted

Q: What was Liz Davis’ input?

  • Feedback from teachers with concerns on how will they be protected
  • WTU sent out survey and had 45 teachers volunteer to serve on a task force. Concerns about getting sick and bringing back illness to their families; a lot of questions and concerns are driven by safety concerns
  • Goal is to go back to the classroom
    • Issues were around PD/use of platforms; online learning
    • Huge concern on digital divide; up to half students aren’t participating in digital learning
  • Can we use Canvas?  Series of videos being created
  • Is there a way for teachers to provide feedback to central offices about what they need?
    • All feedback going through principals
  • A lot of work can be done over the summer; need a lot of voices over the summer
  • It’s a big threat to DCPS if we transfer to long term distance learning – we have to make it safe, but need to think creatively about how to do this.
  • Need to make sure all health forms are in with the DCPS deadline to support healthy schools

 

Status

Parent Sign On Letter Raising Questions about Learning in a Pandemic – to the Mayor and Committee on Education and Child Care

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