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DC CORE Members Vote "No Confidence" in District Leadership Handling of Pandemic


On Wednesday, October 6th, 2021 DC-CORE Members met and unanimously approved a Resolution Calling for a Vote of No Confidence in District of Columbia Leadership’s Handling of Reopening Schools in a Pandemic.


One teacher from Ward 5 said: "Every safety measure that is supposedly in place has so many holes in it. There is no real contact tracing. They claim kids are not close contacts because they are 3 ft apart and masked. That's absurd to begin with, but they don't even ask the teachers who actually know which kids were not distanced and masked. There's nothing we can do about kids who don't wear their masks... I could go on. "


Another educator stated: "There are no checks and balances to make sure systems are in place, protocols are realistic, possible, or being followed. People don't have working HVAC, testers are not showing up or showing up late, the definition of a close contact seems to be nonexistent or constantly changing. It feels like information is being hidden from us, and teachers, families, and kids are expected to act like this is a regular year."


DC-CORE Organizing Committee Chair Steve Donkin added: "District Leadership have no clue what goes on in schools on a daily basis, so to expect them to come up with workable safety plans is unrealistic. They come up with pie-in the-sky ideas and expectations that those of us in the trenches know are impossible to implement. They need to just ask us, but they never do."


Our next steps will be to present this Resolution at the October Washington Teachers Union (WTU) Representative Assembly to make this the official stance of the WTU.


See the Text of the Resolution Below:


Resolution Calling for a Vote of No Confidence in District of Columbia Leadership’s Handling of Reopening Schools in a Pandemic.


WHEREAS,

  • Rising COVID-19 cases, fueled by the delta variant, continue to impact the community, especially unvaccinated minors,

  • The Mayor and Chancellor

  • reopened schools without fully functional HVAC systems and inadequate filters for all spaces where students are regularly present, despite repeated requests and ample opportunity while buildings were closed during the 20-21 school year,

  • missed testing benchmarks during in-person learning in the spring,

  • failed to recognize school constraints with classroom sizes and student-teacher ratios, creating unsafe conditions,

  • neglected vulnerable staff by not offering a virtual accommodation for those with serious health conditions,

  • failed to recognize the need and demand for a virtual option, despite similar accommodations being afforded the charter school sector,

  • failed to effectively roll out school-based COVID testing during the first weeks of school, used tests that are inappropriate for many students without a nasal swab backup, as well as testing personnel that do not always show up with reliability, and failed to meet the 10-20% random testing benchmark,

  • established a definition of “close-contact” untethered to the realities of teaching and learning,

  • failed to include vaccinated personnel in the testing plan,

  • failed to report cases in a timely manner,

  • failed to establish metrics that would require a return to virtual instruction,

  • failed to establish a dashboard for DCPS case notifications with conventional public health metrics,

  • failed to establish adequate staffing levels and substitute teachers to cover academic programming during the pandemic,

  • showed wanton disregard for DCPS community members who are in close contact with unmasked or improperly masked individuals, sometimes for hours over the course of the school day.

  • underfunded mental health and social emotional support for students and staff dealing with trauma and loss during the pandemic and record-setting mass shootings in DC

  • allowed the eviction moratorium to expire, adding to stress and housing instability for families,

  • canceled the State of Emergency and services and benefits available to community members, including COVID leave for staff.

RESOLVED

  • The Washington Teachers Union (WTU) affirms a vote of no confidence in Mayor Muriel Bowser, Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn, OSSE Superintendent Christina Grant, DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee, and DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson.

  • The WTU calls on the DC Council to not confirm interim OSSE Superintendent Christina Grant due to her mishandling of COVID health protocols.

  • The WTU Calls on the DC Council to support the proposed legislation to make OSSE an independent agency under the DC State Board of Education

  • The WTU calls on the District leaders to address all the problems related in this document.

  • The WTU sends this resolution to all WTU Members, General Public and those named.

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