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Washington, D.C., school system cancels plan to open classrooms on Nov. 9 for some students

Nov. 2, 2020
The school system and its teachers union have been unable to agree on a plan for reopening classrooms safely.

The Washington, D.C., public school system has announced that it is canceling plans to bring some elementary students back to classrooms on Nov. 9.

The Washington Post reports that the announcement came after negotiations with the teachers union failed to resolve questions about how to reopen safely.

The Washington Teachers’ Union had encouraged teachers to call in sick and Monday, forcing principals across the city to cancel classes.

The sick-out comes a week before some elementary schools were scheduled to partially reopen — a plan that would have brought thousands of students and hundreds of teachers back to classrooms for the first time since March.

The union says more than 90 percent of the 1,200 members who took part in a vote last week said they had “no confidence” in the school system’s plan to reopen schools on Nov. 9.

“Despite negotiations throughout the weekend, we’re disappointed that we were not able to come to an agreement,” Washington Teacher’s Union President Elizabeth Davis said in a statement. “The Chancellor’s plan to reopen our schools to in-person learning will disrupt the education of a vast majority of DCPS students. As educators, we do not believe this plan is good for our students or good for our schools.”

Principals also pushed back last week against the reopening plan. Their union wrote a letter to school leadership arguing that a plan to reassign middle and high school staff to elementary schools would be harmful to older students.

They also said the school system’s lottery to distribute the limited in-person seats to students at higher risk for academic failure was inequitable.

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