Newsletter: Let's Vote!
Election Month is here, and we are 20 days from Election Day! Let’s vote!
If you are registered to vote in DC, you should have received your ballot at the address listed with the Board of Elections. If you have not received your ballot, first check here to make sure you are properly registered and the Board has the correct address for you. If you have not gotten a ballot by the end of the week, you should call the Board at (202) 727-2525 to request another one. If you are not yet registered in DC, it is too late now to vote by mail. You can still vote in person with same-day registration. Early Vote Centers open on October 27 and 95 vote centers will be open on Election Day, November 3. More details on voting are below.
Another urgent matter I want to discuss is how and when we return to in-person classroom teaching and learning. Hours after I sent you my last newsletter, Mayor Bowser and Chancellor Ferebee unveiled the DCPS plan for Term 2. Pre-k and elementary school students will move from all-distance learning to one of three teaching modes: small group learning with a teacher in the classroom, remote learning with an adult supervising in a classroom, and remote learning.
The announcement took many, including the system’s teachers and administrators, by surprise. I remain concerned that teachers, parents, and students have lots of questions. Along with my fellow Councilmembers, I asked for a public hearing to get these questions answered. I learned earlier today that a hearing on Term 2 implementation will take place on October 23 at 3 p.m. A little more detail on Term 2 is below.
Finally, we have two big holidays coming up, and I’ve gotten questions about the city’s guidance on celebrating. DC Health has put out detailed guidelines for how to celebrate Halloween and Día de los Muertos safely during the pandemic. A key takeaway: normal trick or treating activities – even if outside – are high-risk. I have also asked about Thanksgiving, and Director of DC Health Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt says guidance is soon to come.
I’ve got more important updates below on the work my Labor Committee is doing on unemployment compensation. We need to make sure we are getting money into the pockets of our workers, who have lost income and employment through no fault of their own due to COVID-19. Keep reading for details.
Take care, wear your masks, and let’s vote!
In This Issue:
- Unemployment Updates
- DCPS Reopening Plans
- Coronavirus + Flu Shot
- Strengthening Renter Protections
- Grant Opportunities
- Resource Roundup
Q. Why did I receive less than the full six weeks of supplemental money from the Lost Wages Assistance program (“LWA,” the extra $300/week in federal support)?
A. DC was initially approved to provide four weeks of extra funds (LWA) to workers, and later approved for an additional two weeks. If you received 4 weeks of LWA and have continued to file weekly, you should receive the additional two weeks of benefits soon.
Coronavirus is a public health emergency that has turned into an economic emergency for certain key industries in our city, such as hospitality. We need to make sure workers in our restaurants, hotels, and convention-and-travel-related businesses are getting money into their pockets through the our city and federal unemployment compensation programs.
Last month, my Committee on Labor and Workforce Development held oversight hearings on this critical area and we followed up with letter last week. We had many questions, but there were a few big topics zeroed in on as the highest priority:
- Automatically extending UI benefits for eligible workers
- Speeding up assessment of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims
- Improving communications with the public
While I understand that DOES and Director Morris-Hughes have an unprecedented amount of work before them during an unprecedented time, tens of thousands of DC residents are counting on this money to pay for food or rent. We have to get this right. I have asked DOES to send me responses by no later than October 23.
I also want to make sure all DC workers who are getting unemployment payments are aware of the options for additional benefits. If your UI benefits have expired or are about to expire, you need to apply for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)! PEUC can get you up to 13 weeks of extra UI benefits – but you have to apply, it is not automatic.
Ballot Drop Boxes across the District are now open! Most DC residents have received their absentee ballots, but some may still be in the mail. If you get someone else’s ballot, please write “Return to Sender” on it and mail it back! You can track the status of your ballot online here or contact the Board of Elections at 202-727-2525 if you have concerns.
Here’s the Election Month timeline:
- Early October: Mail-in ballots start arriving via USPS. All District Ballot Drop Boxes are open and available as of October 8.
- October 13: Deadline to register to vote online. If you are not yet registered, you’ll need to register in person during Early Voting or on Election Day and bring your proof of residence.
- October 21: If your ballot doesn’t arrive before this date, make a plan to vote in-person (I suggest voting early at an Early Vote Center!).
- October 27: Early voting starts. Find early voting centers and line wait times here.
- November 3: The Final Day of Election Month or what we call Election Day! If you are mailing your ballot, it must be postmarked or dropped off at a special drop box by 8pm on Election Day. Find Election Day voting centers and line wait times here.
An important reminder: if you are voting in person, you do NOT have to vote at your normal voting center, or even in your own Ward! You can vote at any early voting center from October 27 - November 2 or at any Election Day voting center in the District.
Last week week the Mayor, Chancellor, and DC Health announced that elementary school students (pre-kindergarten through 5th grade) will transition to one of three learning models for Term 2, which begins November 9th:
- Small group instruction with a teacher present in the classroom: This option will be limited and will prioritize English learners and students who are homeless, receive special education, or who come from low-income families.
- A "CARE" model classroom: students attend school in-person in small cohorts supervised by a non-teacher adult, but continue their learning virtually with a teacher. The learning method in this option is the same as the all-virtual model, except that students will be supervised in-person by an adult.
- The current at-home virtual learning model
Families will be notified by their schools if they are selected for an in-person or CARE classroom, however, any family can choose to instead stick with virtual learning. DCPS estimates that in-person and CARE classrooms can accommodate roughly 75% of DCPS elementary students. Middle school and high school students will continue with all-virtual learning through Term 2; Term 3 plans have not yet been released, but could include in-person options for these students.
For more information, please see the Mayor’s October 5 Situational Update.
Last week, the Mayor extended the COVID-19 public health emergency until December 31, 2020, and I expect we’ll see it extended again. All provisions (such as the District’s prohibition on evictions until 60 days after the official end of the pandemic) tied to the public health emergency are likewise extended. In order to make it through this pandemic, we have to work together. That’s why I want to make sure you are answering the call if you’ve tested positive for coronavirus and receive a contact tracing call from DC Health. We can’t stop the spread of COVID-19 if we can’t track it, please answer the call!
Public testing site availability has changed:
- Judiciary Square: Monday-Friday, 9 am - 1 pm
- Anacostia: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9 am - 1 pm
- UDC-CC Bertie Backus Campus: Tuesday and Thursday, 9 am - 1 pm
- Firehouse hours have also changed. Click here for those dates/hours.
Flu shots: Cold and flu season is upon us! With the coronavirus pandemic not yet contained, it’s more important than ever to stay healthy. CVS is partnering with DC Health to give flu shots at six firehouse testing sites from October 5 - 30:
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm:
- Engine 4, 2531 Sherman Avenue, NW
- Engine 24, 5101 Georgia Avenue, NW
- Engine 31, 4930 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Tuesdays and Thursdays. 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm:
- Engine 8, 1520 C Street, SE
- Engine 30, 50 49th Street, NE
- Engine 33, 101 Atlantic Street, SE
These sites are in addition to the flu vaccinations provided by Walgreens at the Judiciary Square testing site through October. To find more locations where you can get a flu shot, click here.
High risk states: Last week, DC Health released an updated list of high-risk states. States that were added to the updated list include: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, West Virginia, and Wyoming. States that were removed include: California, Hawaii, and Ohio.
In last week’s legislative session, we made some great progress in our efforts to protect DC renters that I hope we’ll only continue to build upon. The Fairness in Renting Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2020, introduced by Councilmember Mary Cheh and Chairman Phil Mendelson, now includes an amendment that requires landlords to provide photographic evidence, including a date and time stamp, to the Superior Court when a notice to evict is posted. If the landlord does not provide this evidence, the Court must dismiss the proceeding.
This amendment, from Councilmembers Cheh and Charles Allen, is the direct result of great local journalism that uncovered serious fraud related to hundreds of eviction proceedings. If you haven’t already read the piece that started it all by Josh Kaplan, I would encourage you to do so. The amendment is part of a larger package, the Fairness in Renting Emergency Act, that includes several additional renter protections.
There are numerous grant opportunities for District businesses currently open! Please take a look at the resources below and share them:
- Small Business Resiliency Fund (Deadline: TOMORROW at 11:59pm!): The fund will provide capital to assist brick-and-mortar businesses with a $10,000 grant to support business model pivots, continuity plan and infrastructure development (e.g. e-commerce platform procurement), related COVID-19 marketing expenses, and the purchase of personal protective equipment and/or disinfection products for the business.
- Streatery Winter Ready Grant Program (Deadline: rolling): Provides local restaurants currently offering outdoor dining (and select non-food retail businesses) $6,000 in grant support to winterizing their outdoor spaces. These grants can be used for things like tents, heathers, propane, winter-appropriate furniture, and more.
- Streatery Program (Deadline: rolling): DC has extended its Streatery program through December 31, 2020! Interested businesses can learn more and apply online.
- DC Child Care Provider Relief Fund (Deadline: rolling): $5 million in emergency operational funding available to local child care facilities. Relief funds will be granted to all licensed District child care providers to ensure a supply of child care for families during the public health emergency and recovery period.
See below for a roundup of some of the most recent resources, funding opportunities, and program updates from our office. The newest items will always be on top.
- DC Health Link Extends Opportunity for DC Residents and Employees of DC Small Businesses to Get Covered During COVID-19 Crisis: Click here to learn more.
- 2021 DC Youth Poet Laureate Applications Open: Poets ages 14-20 are encouraged to submit. Applications close October 15, 11:59pm.
- Eat It Forward Campaign: Your favorite Black-owned restaurant could win $25,000 through this contest sponsored by Discover card. Entries are accepted any time from now through October 31, 2020. Full details, including how to participate/nominate, can be found here.
- DC Mortgage Assistance Program (DC MAP) relaunched: DC MAP provides financial relief to District homeowners who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. MAP COVID-19, qualified borrowers can receive a loan of up to $5,000 monthly toward their mortgage for up to six months.
- Food Access Resources: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/food
- Unemployment Assistance: elissasilverman.com/unemployment