DCPS to remain remote for rest of year

Chloe Fatsis

Distance learning will continue through the rest of the school year, which will now end on May 29 instead of June 19. DCPS is also considering starting the 2020-21 school year earlier.

“In closing for students on the 29th, we closed by about three weeks, and our hope would be to make up that three weeks in some way at the start of the next school year,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in her press conference this morning.

Summer school opportunities will still be available, but it has not yet been determined whether that will be in-person or remote. Chancellor Lewis Ferebee will provide more details about plans for summer learning and next school year by May 15. Senior year activities such as graduation are still uncertain, and Ferebee is expected to provide more details about those in the coming weeks as well.

“I imagine if we start in early August, that will give teachers a decent runway to try to pick up some of the… learning that students missed and then get us started on more solid ground for next fall,” Principal Kimberly Martin said. “But I suppose all of that is also related to flattening the curve and where we are with the virus unfolding during that time so I suppose even that is in limbo.”

Now, schools must figure out the grading policies for terms 3 and 4, as both have been disrupted by COVID-19. DCPS is set to release the new policy this evening, April 17.

Martin is saddened that schools will not reopen this year. “I feel sad and I feel anxious and I feel worried for all of these different populations of people who have things that aren’t getting met,” she said.

To accommodate students who do not have access to technology, DCPS has been distributing devices and WiFi hotspots. This initiative has appeared to be successful so far. About 2,000 students from 20 high schools have received devices, and around 200 Wilson students are expected to have received devices.

This is the latest update in a long string of cancellations that began over a month and a half ago. During the week of March 9, Wilson began sending emails to the community about coronavirus concerns and event cancellations, including International Night, the Tiger Bash, and the Wilson theater production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” 

On March 13, DCPS announced that school was closed for two weeks. The dates of spring break were moved to the following week. At that point, Martin did not expect the situation to become as serious as it has. “We had planned on being back at school [by] now,” she said. “Everything just kept changing really quickly.” Before the two weeks were over, DCPS released another announcement, this time saying that school would be conducted remotely until April 27.

During the time away, teachers have had to adapt to online programs. “One of the biggest challenges we have right now is parents have complained to me about the number of different instructional tools or platforms that teachers are using,” Martin said. “I want to try to find a way to decrease the number of platforms and yet not reign on teacher autonomy or student engagement.” Currently, Wilson teachers have used around 30 different platforms, but Martin is trying to narrow that down to about 15.

DCPS has served 162,000 meals to students at 50 sites across the city. Wilson is one of these sites, and serves meals from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday to Friday.