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Union: 2 DCPS teachers test positive for COVID-19 after picking up school supplies

DCPS confirmed the cases Wednesday but gave WUSA9 new information two days later saying only one case involved a teacher.

WASHINGTON — DC Public Schools confirmed Wednesday that two teachers tested positive for COVID-19. A school spokesperson contacted WUSA9 Friday afternoon with new information and said only one of the people infected was an educator, the other (from Payne Elementary) was a staff member.

However, the Washington Teachers Union insists both were teachers who told the union they believe were exposed at Noyes and Payne elementary schools when they picked up their school supplies. The union said the teachers developed symptoms and tested positive within days of visiting their schools.

DCPS provided letters from the principals confirming the cases. One individual was last inside Payne Elementary in Ward 6 on Aug. 21, while the other individual last visited Noyes in Ward 5 Aug. 27. According to DCPS, both buildings underwent immediate deep cleaning.

“What is happening is what I suspected would happen,” WTU President Liz Davis said. "But we’re not going to discourage teachers from doing in-person teaching.” 

Though instruction is online right now for DCPS, the school system gave teachers an option to teach virtually from inside their classrooms if they could not do so at home. Davis said at least 160 teachers have expressed their desire to return to the classroom. 

DCPS could not give WUSA9 an exact number of educators who are currently teaching virtually from their classrooms. However, a spokesperson pointed out results from a recent staff survey that showed 55% were "somewhat or very likely" to return in-person.

RELATED: DCPS Chancellor says device distribution will last until first week of school

So what protocols are in place if a teacher decides to teach virtually from their classroom right now?

  • Must be preapproved by school administration 
  • PPE is required in the building at all times
  • Self- assessment health screening
  • Daily cleaning with scheduled deep cleaning
  • Maximum capacity of 50% staff population
  • Hygiene and social distancing signage
  • Employees will be assigned a workspace.
  • No children allowed
  • No large group activities

Even with those protocols, Davis recommends teachers do not return to the classroom right now.

“We have not had a chance to make any assessment of whether or not these buildings are ready for students and teachers," she said. "It is imperative that [teachers who are in the building right now] report instances where those safety protocols have not been in place. If your school has faulty ventilation still, when you return, report it to us."

DCPS stresses if anyone is experiencing symptoms, they should not report to the school building.

RELATED: 'DCPS seems to be trying their best' | First day jitters, glitches for DC public schools

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