Dear Students, Families, and Community Members,
Over the past year, our school communities have faced unprecedented challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic. I am so proud of our school leaders and staff who have worked incredibly hard to ensure we are first and foremost prioritizing the well-being of our students. We know schools are looking forward to returning to the classroom, and they’ve prepared the necessary resources so they can safely welcome students back - including upgrading HVAC systems to hiring more staff and requiring all staff be vaccinated or comply with regular testing.
We know that given the nature of this pandemic, some aspects of the school year will be less predictable than previous years and we are prepared to adapt as needed. But through all of our work, we are fully committed to ensuring that every DC student receives a quality education that makes them feel valued and prepares them for lifelong learning, fulfilling careers, and economic security - no matter what that may look like.
Dr. Michelle J. Walker Davis, Executive Director of DC PCSB
When are schools reopening for the 2021-2022 school year?
You can find the exact start date for your individual DC Public Charter School here.
What will school look like given ongoing concerns around COVID-19?
Schools are preparing to return to full-time (5 days/week) in-person learning. DC Public Charter Schools require masks be worn within school buildings this fall and also that staff be vaccinated against COVID-19 or comply with regular testing. Individual schools are also implementing additional safety measures including social distancing requirements, installing sanitizing stations, providing PPE to students and staff and much more. The health and safety of our school communities is our priority, and as we monitor the emerging variants and new developments around COVID-19, we will continue looking to experts for additional guidance. Please visit your school’s website or give them a call to learn more about their health and safety protocols.
Additionally, DC Public Charter Schools are following the citywide requirement for distance learning in the 2021-22 school year. Only students with a health or medical need will be eligible to learn at home. Families must complete this medical eligibility form created by the Office of the State Superintendent here. The form should be returned to the school where your student is enrolled.
How will DC PCSB enact safety protocols on public transportation?
DC PCSB strongly encourages all students, school staff, and employees to wear masks when traveling on public transportation.
How is DC PCSB ensuring the health and safety of school communities?
Every school’s reopening plan includes COVID-19 protocols, classroom set-up/structure, and more. You may view each school’s plan here. DC PCSB also conducts site visits for each school to ensure compliance with DC Health’s standards. Many public charter schools have been upgrading HVAC systems, hosting vaccine clinics, procuring additional space, hiring more staff,and holding community conversations to build trust in both the vaccine and the safety of their school buildings.
Will DC PCSB require COVID-19 vaccinations for eligible staff at public charter schools?
The daily operations - including decisions regarding vaccine requirements - are mandated by individual public charter schools, not by DC PCSB. Our primary focus is always the well-being of our students, and that includes their health and safety when it comes to COVID-19.
We are encouraged by the data we have seen so far because public charter schools are following citywide health and safety guidelines for schools including vaccinations, testing, mask requirements, contact tracing, and quarantining. Our schools are committed to putting into place the mandates and requirements - including vaccination for staff or complying with regular Covid testing- that we know will help keep our school communities safe.
You can check with individual schools to see what specific measures they are taking.
How can I find out what my public charter school is doing with COVID-19 protocols, mandates, and requirements?
Schools are mandated to report when any person working or learning at that school has had a positive COVID-19 test. Contact tracing is also conducted by DC Health (more information is available here).
A directory of contact information for all DC PCSB schools can be found here.
What resources are being provided to schools and educators as they return to school?
DC PCSB provides a variety of trainings and resources to our school leaders covering topics including reopening, mental wellness, health and safety, and much more. Schools are partnering with community-based organizations to provide students, staff, and families with the help and enrichment they need, including access to mental health counselors, and social workers. An updated list of these resources can be found through OSSE.
What support is being provided to students?
Our top priorities on the first day of school and throughout the school year are to address the social-emotional needs of students and ensure they feel welcomed back. Many schools have already been working hard through the summer to help students make up for lost learning through both tutoring and on-site activities. Many are prepared to continue offering tutoring to those who need it as well as hiring more staff to meet increased need for additional support. School-based mental health programs will also be expanded to meet students’ needs which may have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
How will online learning be used going forward?
We are working through many of the lessons the pandemic has taught us in real-time. We recognize that there is a subset of students who thrived during distance learning, and two schools were approved to offer permanent, robust online or hybrid learning options, providing the flexibility that these students need. Students who require distance learning due to a health or medical need must complete OSSE’s medical eligibility certification form. Learn more about the medical eligibility form here. Families need to give the completed form to the school in which their student is enrolled.
What do families need to do to prepare for students’ return to school?
Families should schedule their child’s annual wellness visit, ensure their students are in compliance with the Immunization Attendance Policy, and have up-to-date immunization certifications on file with their schools within the first 20 school days. There are pop-up clinics across the District where any student can get required immunizations to attend school in-person.
More information, including immunization requirements, can be found on the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)’s website. The US Department of Education also compiled many resources for parents/caretakers to help prepare for a return to in-person learning including plans to get eligible children vaccinated against COVID-19 and ways to talk to students about safety. A checklist can be found here.
How can I get in touch with my school if I have additional questions/concerns?
Profile pages where families can find contact and other information about each PCS can be found here. Or, if you have a concern and have already talked to your school, please call DC PCSB at 202-963-0968 to submit a complaint.
How many cases of COVID have schools received?
Information is available here. Ongoing monitoring of COVID-19 in DC schools occurs through mandatory reporting from schools of any person working or learning at the school who has had a positive COVID-19 test and contact tracing by DC Health.
Will DC PCSB create an exemption for students who wish to enroll virtually?
DC PCSB will not be creating exemptions. Per city guidelines, the only way a student may receive an exemption from attending in person school is to complete the medical eligibility form created by the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) here. The form must be signed by a licensed physician or nurse practitioner and then submitted to your school.
What happens when my student has missed a significant number of classes (say 20 unexcused absences or more)?
Please contact your school. More information on attendance law can be found here.
Are any public charter schools offering virtual options to all students?
Public schools are required to follow OSSE’s attendance regulations which do allow for virtual options. The only way a student may receive an exemption from attending in person school is to complete the medical eligibility form created by the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) here. The form must be signed by a licensed physician or nurse practitioner and then submitted to your school.