DC Mayor Muriel Bowser expects DC public and charter schools to begin hybrid learning on November 9. In a press conference today, Bowser said the city is working with school officials and teachers to figure out how to safely bring students back into the classroom, at least part time, for Term 2 of the school year.
In a hybrid learning model previously proposed for DC public schools (DCPS), students would be split into two groups. One group would attend in-person classes Mondays and Tuesdays, the other group, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday would be reserved each week as a cleaning day. Bowser said the District’s outbreak is under control enough for students to safely return to the classroom, but that any return needs to be done safely and in a way that facilitates social distancing and would mitigate potential disease spread.
Bowser previously said the city was considering bringing small groups back to DCPS classrooms early this fall. She said while that continues to be her goal, DCPS teachers and administrators are still reviewing plans for making that possible.
The city is also updating its publicly accessible Covid-related data to help average Washingtonians better grasp the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the District. DC Department of Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said the city will be retiring its old form of tracking community spread, which followed the symptom onset date. Instead, daily metrics will now include daily positive cases per 100,000 people, which she says is a more accessible statistic for many people.
In the press conference, Bowser and others reflected on the District’s response to the pandemic over the past six months. Though data shows that DC currently has mitigated its outbreak better than most large American cities, there have still been 14,790 cases and 619 deaths, which exceeds the expectations of some early models.
Bowser also recognized the impact the pandemic has had on the District’s economy, given that it’s projected to lose $1.5 billion in revenue through the 2021 fiscal year. The city has received 143,308 unemployment claims and paid out $1.1 billion in benefits thus far. Though DC has allotted $33 million to provide grants for small businesses, Bowser said she knows it’s not enough—and said there needs to be a “sustained federal stimulus” for local businesses to survive.