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Here are the options DC is considering for starting school next year

Officials say the key driver of any plan will be how comfortable families feel about bringing their students back into school buildings.

WASHINGTON — Some D.C. students could be going back to school as early as August 10, according to members of the ReOpen DC Committee on Education and Childcare. That’s about two weeks earlier than normal. 

D.C. officials offered the earlier return as one possibility as they consider how and when to safely return students to the classroom.

"We're looking at a lot of work, from a group called instructional partners to the CDC and our own Department of Health," Raymond Wheelan, executive director of Thurgood Marshall Academy in Anacostia, said.

Wheelan is part of a group of black leaders offering guidance to the city-wide ReOpen DC committee, and has almost daily updates with the Deputy Mayor of Education. 

WUSA9 confirmed three possible options for return with several school principals:   

1. An extension of the distance learning model for as long as two months

2. Alternating groups of students every other day based on need and grade.

3. Socially distant classroom model with 10 students sitting six feet apart. 

 "It's definitely an option that we're looking at and how to do it well, including adding more resources and training and support for our teachers and our students," Wheelan said. 

In a statement to WUSA9, a DC Public Schools spokesperson said leaders are working to "reimagine physical learning environments, evaluate phased entry for summer learning and next school year, as well as identify new tools or resources needed for reopening." 

"I think the key driver of this is going to be how comfortable families feel about bringing their students back into the building," Wheelan said. 

School leaders are getting feedback from teachers and parents before rolling out a draft plan, Whelan said, which still allows flexibility for each school based on how the virus has impacted their community. 

Attendance continues to be one of the biggest challenges so far. WASHINGTON - D.C. leaders are still working out details on what school will look like in the fall. But some teachers say one of the largest challenges is making sure every student is part of the plan moving forward.

“While I too would like to know what my two children are going to be doing in August in the fall, I would rather be super deliberate and think about how to keep as many people as possible safe, rather than rushing and making decisions," Whelan said. 

Some school principals said the preliminary plan raises questions about the impact on recess, lunch and PE classes. 

Mayor Bowser is expected to roll out her plan Friday, May 22. The last day for DC Public School is Friday, May 29. 

RELATED: Return to class: Fairfax County lays out plan for students to safely return to school this fall

RELATED: Return to class: Maryland lays out plan for transitioning students back to in-person learning

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