Select students may return to school this February

Joanna Chait

Principal Kimberly Martin’s reopening plan is under review for approval by DCPS central office. At least 500 students, a combination of at-risk populations and volunteers, are set to return to school in-person by mid to late February in cohorts of ten. 

After Martin received 650 responses to a survey asking families about their learning preferences, she realized many Wilson student populations could benefit from in-person instruction. Martin developed a plan to meet the varying needs of a large cross section of student groups. 

Martin’s plan involves two separate groups of students who follow the same model, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The groups of students will consist of those who are invited back based on certain risk factors and others who volunteer to return.

Grade-level teams will determine when students per class will be invited back to the building. Some data that will be used to evaluate student risk are: grades from term one and two, attendance, homelessness, and other DCPS risk-factors.

The first group of students will go to their first period class in-person and attend their second period virtually. They will get a grab-and-go lunch then have the choice to either go home or finish third and fourth period virtually in Canvas Academic and Real Engagement (CARE) classrooms, maintained by non-instructional staff. The same pattern will repeat for students coming into the building for third period in-person. 

The plan follows a cohort model, having classes of ten students each in order to minimize student movement. Teachers will move between classes mixing in-person instruction and regular virtual instruction. 

 All teachers with a first and third period will teach in the building one day per week. Teachers will teach 20 students on Microsoft Teams while having ten in their classroom simultaneously. 

The Washington Teachers Union reached an agreement with DCPS Thursday December 17, that teachers would provide in-person instruction one day per week starting in the third term. 

One hundred and ninety students will be in the building in the morning, and 180 in the afternoon. 

In order to not overcrowd the school academic departments are divided between instructional days of the week. 

Monday will be English and JROTC, Tuesday will be math and world language, Thursday will be science and physical education, and Friday will be for social studies and art/music.

Martin’s plan for re-opening was finalized on December 16, to then be reviewed by multiple teams at DCPS’s central office. 

DCPS’s criteria mandates that in-person learning consists of cohorts with 12 people maximum, in a room at a time. Martin chose to only have classes of 10 students to have space for additional staff members in the classroom. Also, at least 25 percent of the student body must return in-person. 

 Students must attend school at least one day a week. Students will only see four teachers per day while teachers see twenty-two students. 

 Students who require a personal aide or a nurse must be granted this service, whilst adhering to health guidelines. Finally, related service providers who offer in-person services may create self-contained classes or take students from grade-level cohorts. 

The second set of guidelines that the proposal must comply with are the Operations Guidelines that ensures the health and safety of everyone upon returning to in-person instruction. The Operations Guides requires students and teachers to stay six feet from one another.

 Upon entering the building from four separate entrances, Students will follow the “Look Look Ask Protocol.” Two adults observe a student when they enter the building for physical symptoms, and a third asks the student if they’ve come in contact with anyone who has COVID-19. This is followed by a temperature check and passing through a hand-sanitizing station. An isolation room will be located near the nurse’s office in the case that a student needs to be picked up for showing signs of COVID.

Chancellor Ferebee and Mayor Bowser have pushed the reopening date back from February 1 to mid or late February. When students will return in-person remains uncertain.