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DC-CORE Treasurer David Ifill's Testimony on Reopening at the SBOE

Thank you members of the State Board for the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is David Ifill and I am a Middle School Music Teacher in Ward 5. In the past I spoke to this board as a teacher concerned about the safety of our teachers and our students and now a year later I am still speaking about this but now with a new context. All across the country we are seeing the affects of this new delta variant wreck havoc on school systems that have started before us. Even school systems in Florida that have defied Governor Ron DeSantis orders not to mandate masks have seen over a thousand cases including students and staff.

When I see the numbers of increase across all 50 states including the district, and I see governors, mayors and school officials time and time again dig in their heels and listen to the anti-vaccine and anti-mask movement it makes my skin boil.

We have not received guidance on what this year will look like including what instrumental music and chorus will look like. Are we supposed to play uncovered instruments? How can we effectively teach singers and instrumentalist 3ft or 6ft apart? This “everybody decide for yourself” stance is not working.

Also not to mention that teachers are to go to work and have “virtual” trainings from DCPS. If everything is so safe, let everyone go to PD and come together in person. That lets me know that the DCPS office still thinks it is dangerous for large crowds. How am I supposed to feel comfortable trying to teach like that?

Just as a reference, I was a teacher in our schools summer acceleration program. We only had maybe 5 percent of the total school population there and I have to say that having middle school kids follow a mask policy is extremely hard. All the time we were repeatedly seeing students with their masks down or off. I can only imagine how hard it is for elementary students.

So what could be a viable solution. If you're listening from a teacher’s perspective right now I would say “stay virtual” until all students are vaccinated or we get all the booster shots. But I know that is not reality. I believe a slow down with our school system implementing a hybrid model is a better option. It will give parents the option to have their students in the class or virtual and it would reduce the number of students or staff potentially spreading the virus.

Thank you for listening.

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