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:
"I am disappointed that Chairman Phil Mendelson chose to keep the emergency legislation regarding school reopening off tomorrow’s legislative agenda. The Chairman has the prerogative to do so given that this is an additional legislative meeting, but I think this critical issue deserves public conversation and input. Returning our students to in-person instruction needs to be a top priority of our government, and the entire DCPS community needs to have confidence in the plan moving forward for it to be successful.
Last Friday, the Washington Post highlighted the experience of public schools in Bethlehem, PA, which had returned students and teachers back to the classroom beginning in September. This is what Superintendent Joseph J. Roy had to say: 'The transparency piece is huge…I don’t want anyone to think we’re hiding anything. If they do, they’re not going to go to school. We have to keep people safe, and we have to keep up the confidence of the community.'
I circulated emergency legislation last week to spark conversation and to make sure we have a process that is transparent and collaborative for all parties involved in bringing instruction back to DCPS buildings. These are not easy decisions to make, given we need to weigh both the educational benefits and impact on public health. That’s why we need input from everyone: parents, nurses, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, security guards, school bus drivers, administrators. I look forward to discussing this at the next legislative meeting."