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Newsletter: The Highs and Lows This Past Week

Dear resident,

This has been a week of highs and lows.

It was so hopeful and affirming to see the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrive at DC hospitals! Per our Vaccination Plan, thousands of essential healthcare workers will receive the first of two vaccine shots in upcoming days! Initial distribution of the vaccine is rejuvenating, even though the risk of COVID transmission remains dangerously high in the challenging winter months ahead. There was further good news that both Maryland and Virginia have agreed to contribute thousands of vaccine doses to DC hospitals given these institutions are regional and doses were distributed to states based on residential population; a DC Health survey estimates approximately 75 percent of essential healthcare workers employed in DC live outside DC. 

Press Release: Department of Employment Services Director to Testify on New DC Stimulus and Potential End of Federal Funding for PUA, UI Extensions

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 15, 2020 – Unless Congress takes action, significant parts of the pandemic-related safety net created by the federal CARES Act will come to an end the day after Christmas. Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) Director Unique Morris-Hughes will testify before the DC Council about what claimants can expect if federal funding for certain unemployment compensation programs does not extend beyond Dec. 26. The Director will also explain who will receive DC’s new $1,200 economic stimulus payment and when it will likely arrive, as well as talk about other issues with unemployment compensation and benefit extensions.

Release: Silverman Introduces Revised DCPS Reopening Bill

Silverman Introduces Revised DCPS Reopening Bill

Incorporating feedback from parents, teachers, and other DCPS stakeholders, bill focuses on transparency and collaboration while reopening schools safely 

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 14, 2020 – Recognizing that returning students to in-person classroom learning requires collaboration and trust among all those involved with DC Public Schools (DCPS), Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large) released a revised version of the “Pandemic Learning Emergency Act of 2020” for consideration at tomorrow’s D.C. Council legislative meeting. The goal of the bill is to shift the DCPS reopening process from one that has been disjointed, chaotic, and confusing to a process that is cooperative and transparent.


Councilmember Silverman Letter to DOES on Unemployment and Rescheduling Testimony

Dear Director Morris-Hughes:

Yesterday’s announcement by Mayor Bowser of a $1,200 supplemental payment to some of our unemployed workers was great news, and I was glad to see you at the press conference to explain how the payment will work. Still, there are many questions about who will get the money and when. As you know, this is a scary time for our unemployment claimants, because federal CARES Act funding will end in less than three weeks. If Congress doesn’t take action, the program that has provided weekly checks for an estimated 40,000 DC independent contractors and gig workers will evaporate, as well as money to extend traditional unemployment insurance for another 120,000 DC workers.

[Click here for a PDF of the letter or continue reading below]

Release: Silverman Continues Push for Collaboration and Transparency with DCPS During Pandemic Learning

Silverman Continues Push for Collaboration and Transparency with DCPS During Pandemic Learning

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 25, 2020 – The District of Columbia faces challenging decisions on how best to educate our DC Public Schools (DCPS) students in the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders need to weigh the public health and safety of the entire DCPS community alongside the best environment for learning and social-emotional development. These decisions need to be made collaboratively and transparently, with the trust and confidence of everyone involved in our schools: students, parents, teachers, nurses, teacher aides and paraprofessionals, principals, cafeteria staff, and custodial workers.

Newsletter: A Year of Difficult Decisions, Including Thanksgiving

Dear resident,

I wish you a happy and COVID-safe Thanksgiving celebration! For me, that means not hosting my extended family’s annual get-together given advice from our public health professionals to be indoors only with those in your immediate household. I will also miss my tradition of getting pre-turkey exercise with friends at one of the area’s charity turkey trots! I’ve decided instead to create my own 5K run (walk) to benefit some local nonprofits; I encourage other annual turkey trotters to consider doing the same for local groups of your choice, which are helping fill major safety net gaps at this time. 

Colder weather has brought on the predicted uptick in COVID+ cases in the District. Yesterday, Mayor Bowser announced additional restrictions (visual presentation here) to halt community spread of the virus, including reducing indoor restaurant seating capacity to 25 percent by Dec. 14; shutting down all live music venues and indoor gym classes immediately; limiting indoor worship services to 50 people; and keeping all indoor gatherings at 10 people or less.

Silverman Statement on Schools Reopening Emergency Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 16, 2020 – Last week, Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large) introduced the COVID-19 DCPS Reopening Emergency Act of 2020, which would establish clear data, information, and timetables needed to be in place to return to the classroom. Upon learning that the bill will not be on this Tuesday's legislative agenda, the Councilmember released the following statement:

Silverman Introduces Emergency Legislation to Increase Transparency and Collaboration on DCPS Safe Reopening

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 12, 2020 – Today, Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) introduced emergency legislation to increase transparency and collaboration in the development of Term 2 plans for the resumption of in-person learning at District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). The COVID-19 DCPS Reopening Emergency Act of 2020 (“DCPS Reopening Act”) delineates guidelines for the expansion of in-person learning and teacher instruction during a public health emergency. Specifically, the bill outlines data and timelines that must be shared in advance, requires the Mayor to send any reopening plan to the Council for approval, and specifies that any plan must include the support of the workers in DCPS schools.

Councilmember Silverman and Colleagues Recommend Active Community Engagement as DCPS Develops Reopening Plans

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 2, 2020 – Today, Councilmember Elissa Silverman, joined by Councilmembers Robert C. White, Jr., Brianne K. Nadeau, Charles Allen, and Trayon White, Sr., sent a letter to DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Lewis Ferebee expressing support for the decision to delay in-person reopening of our public schools and outlining recommendations for moving forward. 

Newsletter: Tough And Responsible Decisions

Dear resident,

Today is the first day of in-person, early voting in DC! I was at Sherwood Rec near my home in Ward 6 when polls opened at 8:30 a.m., and though there was a line, it moved quite efficiently! Two reminders: You can vote at any early voting center across the city; the list of sites is here. And for our seniors and residents with a disability, curbside voting (which allows you to vote outside on a hand-held computer) is available!

We face many challenging decisions in the upcoming days and months, both as individuals and as a city. First, I know many of you, like me, are wrestling with how to celebrate upcoming holidays safely and responsibly. I want you to be aware of guidance DC Health has issued both for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Here’s what we are seeing through contact tracing interviews: COVID+ residents report with some frequency attending small group gatherings with family and friends prior to testing positive. I usually host Thanksgiving and love that my Maryland and Virginia family have a tradition of gathering at my home, but it’s not happening this year. DC Health considers that high-risk, and I am heeding that warning.