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'This is a gut-wrenching decision for parents' | DC Councilmember demands plan for in-person learning

Councilmember Robert White gave Mayor Muriel Bowser a deadline of Sept. 30 to produce a school plan.

WASHINGTON — Sharneé Humphries said doctors diagnosed her with COVID-19 after she suffered a heart attack in early March. 

It’s been a long journey to healing for the mom of two. She said virtual learning only added to family pressures. Still, she is not ready to send her 4 and 11-year old sons back to the classroom. 

“I don’t know how other families are dealing with their children and what precautions they are taking for COVID so I feel like I would be putting them at risk by sending them to school without knowing a plan," Humphries said.

"This is a difficult, gut-wrenching decision for parents,” Councilmember Robert White said. “It's tough for me as a Councilmember, and very frankly, as a parent, especially to be so close to a possible school reopening and not know, at all what the protocols are going to be.”  

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White joined three other colleagues in writing a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser calling for more details on the possible return to in-person learning for D.C. Public Schools. Bowser said at a news conference Sept. 18 that the District and Health leaders “continue to examine how to offer in-person learning opportunities as well as virtual opportunities beginning Nov. 9.” 

However, councilmembers said the plan is short on specifics that they have been requesting for weeks.

“As we head into cold and flu season, I think all of us expect to see an increase in the number of positive cases, we're all nervous,” explained White. “We also all recognize that we're figuring this out together but figuring it out together requires a much higher level of communication.”

WUSA9 asked DCPS for details on the proposed hybrid plan for November but received this statement from Chancellor Lewis Ferebee: 

"DC Public Schools is committed to a safe and successful return to in-person learning for our students and staff. With safety and equitable access top of mind, we are actively considering options that would allow for students, especially those furthest from opportunity, to return in-person to receive the high-quality instruction and critical supports that prepare them for lifelong success. We will continue to work closely with Mayor Bowser, DC Health, other District agencies, and our union partners, to determine the best way to welcome staff and students back into our facilities and look forward to providing an update to our families soon."

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