Wilson plans for safe fall reopening

Joanna Chait

Principal Kimberly Martin is waiting to see how the school will reopen on August 31. Some ideas have been suggested by Chancellor Lewis Ferebee and Mayor Muriel Bowser has released her guidelines for re-opening the city, so there are a few clear details on how Wilson will look this August.

DCPS provided three different plans involving melded distance and in-person learning for SY 2020-21. Two of the plans involve students going back to school one or two days per week, with the rest of the days being remote learning,  Principal Kimberly Martin confirmed.  NBC  Washington reported that the other plan would have students come to school for an entire week, every three weeks. “The third option would have students in schools for a full week every third week,” the program said. Bowser has decided that school will begin August 31, regardless of which plan is implemented. 

DCPS is considering a plan that would involve no interpersonal contact in case the state of the pandemic does not allow for it.  “There were a couple of options that were presented and one of them is that we don’t have in-person instruction,” Principal Martin said.

Martin said that if Wilson has face-to-face learning, each class would have ten students, and students would come to school for just 1-2 days per week.  To accommodate class quotas, every course will have more sections. “Likely, teachers will come in every single day because they’ll have students every day,” Martin said. But to make room for the additional sections in the core classes, “we would, of course, have to offer fewer electives,” Martin said.

Fewer students per room allows for a six-foot radius between students and the teacher as desks will be seated with two students per row. In order to avoid large gatherings, “Lunches are going to be in classrooms,”  said Martin. School lunches will be delivered to students, instead of requiring waiting in a lunch line.  Meals are to be prepackaged or served individually. 

Wilson will provide personal protective equipment such as masks at the front door where temperature checks and hand-sanitizing will be obligatory before entering. 

The plan to have students split their learning between home and school will only be enacted if DC makes sufficient progress containing the virus, according to an article by The Washington Post.  “The plan is contingent upon the city entering Phase Two of its re-opening strategy officials said.” The city is set to enter stage two of re-opening, Monday, June 20, 2020. 

Bowser has appointed a committee called “ReOpen DC Advisory Group” which counsels her on how to open up the city. The Advisors have established stages that, when met, result in further re-opening. DC entered stage one or “Declining Virus Transmission” on Friday,  May 28.  In order to resume any in-person education, DC must enter stage two, “Only localized transmission,” or three, “Sporadic Transmission.”  In order to return to school under normal conditions,  DC must be in stage four, “Effective vaccine or cure”.  

Although DCPS is confirmed to resume August 31, The Post reported that,  “Some third-, sixth-, and ninth-graders in DC Public schools could start school in person in early August.”  DCPS plans to enroll students in those grades earlier in order to help sixth and ninth graders adjust to new schools. 

The Reopen DC website lists “Recommended Safeguards” for education and childcare. It suggests families should designate one parent per-family to do drop-off and pick-up. It also suggests the cancellation or postponement of activities outside school, including field trips and sports, until further notice from officials. Students are presumed to be staggered in their arrival and dismissal times, to limit the number of people going in and out of the building. 

The committee has outlined a few ways to comply with social distancing measures in school buildings. One is creating one-way paths in classrooms with tape or stickers. Additionally, there are a number of precautions recommended in order to maintain general cleanliness including keeping the building consistently disinfected and installing “no touch” equipment. Students will provide their own materials which are not to be shared and will be encouraged to sanitize their hands when entering or exiting a room.