WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia has filed a temporary restraining order against the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) in D.C. Superior Court in an effort to stop delays in the in-person learning D.C. Public Schools is set to start this week.
The District says in the civil court filing that this is for "preventing the Washington Teachers' Union Local #6, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO and District teachers from engaging in a strike or work stoppage that would halt the District's reopening of some schools for in-person learning on February 2, 2021."
D.C. claims in its proposed order that the alleged behavior to strike against the reopening of schools by WTU means students in the District would "suffer profound and irreparable harm if not let back in the classroom.
D.C. Public Schools, D.C. government officials and WTU have had a contentious relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was only heightened last fall as the school district tried to phase in-person learning back into its curriculum.
“Teachers want to go back to school but also want to be sure that they and their students are safe,” said WTU President Elizabeth Davis. The union will reportedly speak more to the media on Tuesday morning.
WTU announced in November 2020 that it had declined to sign a tentative Memorandum of Agreement with DCPS to reopen schools for in-person learning. The move impacted an initial back the classroom plan that DCPS had originally proposed.
"DCPS fulfilled its health and safety commitment to students and staff, and these measures were reaffirmed by an arbitrator's decision made over the weekend. Our schools are safe, and we know the best place for students to learn is in the classroom. Our students are ready, our buildings are ready, our staff is ready. DCPS is opening our doors tomorrow," said the school district about the court filing.
D.C. school teachers who will be in the classroom have gotten the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but the second dose that is needed to be fully vaccinated would not be administered to most teachers in the district for a couple more weeks.
Parents with children in the DCPS system have been split on having in-person learning during the pandemic, according to a survey the school district sent out to parents in late 2020.
Localities across D.C., Maryland and Virginia have struggled to balance health and safety, and having kids in the classroom. Some parents across the region have urged for in-person learning just as much as other parents that have called for continued social distancing.