Newsletter: End of Summer for DCPS and DC Council
I’m not sure if it’s “Back to School” or, more aptly, “Back to School, But Still at Home,” but for those who might not be aware, our DCPS students start school this Monday. As Mayor Bowser and DCPS Chancellor Louis Ferebee announced a few weeks ago, DCPS will be remote learning until at least November 6. I, along with several of my colleagues, have asked the Administration repeatedly about the readiness of our system and our families to learn via technology.
I remain concerned that some of our students either do not have a computer, or do not know how to use their computer and hotspot well enough to make remote learning successful. DCPS leadership has assured the Council, however, that they are prepared. If you are a DCPS family still in need of technology for the new school year, please call your school ASAP, call DCPS at 202-442-5885, or reach out to my office for assistance.
Chancellor Ferebee also announced that enrollment and vaccination rates remain lower than expected. For information on vaccinations and other health support for your student, click here. Visit DCPSreopenstrong.com for a full list of resources for students and families. Best wishes to our students, parents and teachers on their first term. Please give me your feedback on how things are going with remote learning.
The DC Council is also saying goodbye to summer recess soon. We head back into session starting September 8, the day after Labor Day.
A final note: If you are planning to participate in this Friday’s March on Washington, please help our city contain COVID-19 by wearing a mask and social distancing as best you can. For full details about the March, including the route, road closures, and what safety measures will be in place, click here.
Take care, and see you on the other side of Labor Day.
In This Issue:
- Additional Resources for DCPS Families
- Coronavirus and Testing
- Immigrant Justice Legal Services Grant
- WMATA Service Updates
- Resource Roundup
Q. By when do I have to request my absentee ballot to vote by mail for the November General Election?
A. You don’t! All registered voters will be mailed an absentee ballot automatically. Click here to confirm that your registration information is up to date.
There are several different ways for DC residents to vote this November: by mail, by ballot box, and in-person. Here’s what you need to know:
Registration: You can check your registration information online here. There are a few options for registering for the first time or updating your registration:
- Respond to a registration mailer from the Board of Elections. Voters recently received registration mailers from the Board, but they had a very big design flaw. If you need to use the mailer to update your voter information, please fold the form – do not tear it per the instructions – and tape both sides together to send it back.
- Register/update registration online and allow your DMV-issued ID signature to be used as your registration signature. This option means you will NOT have to print anything, but you will still have to email your registration forms.
- Fill out the registration information online, print and sign the forms, mail back.
Voting Absentee: The good news here is that you do NOT need to request an absentee ballot for the November election! Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters – so see the section above to make sure you are registered and your information is correct. Ballots should be in the mail in early October, and you have three options for returning them:
- Drop it in the mail. Postage is prepaid.
- Return the ballot to any vote center, either early voting locations between October 27 – November 2, or on Election Day.
- Drop it in one of the District’s secure drop boxes (full list here) on or before 8pm on Election Day. Ballots in these drop boxes will be collected twice a day by BOE.
In-Person Voting: Please consider voting early to avoid crowds! Early voting will take place October 27 - November 2. Click here for a full list of early voting centers. On Election Day, November 3, there will be at least 80 Vote Centers open from 7 am to 8 pm. You can vote at ANY Vote Center; you do NOT have to vote at your usual voting place (which may not be open), or even in your ward. If you do vote in person and you received an absentee ballot in the mail, bring that ballot with you! Otherwise you may have to vote using a special ballot, which could cause delays.
You can also find lots of helpful information on how to vote securely this November in this recent Washington Post article.
Mental health services for caregivers: The District is expanding our Mental Health Hotline to include support from licensed clinicians for parents and caregivers experiencing stress due to changes in schooling and family life during the pandemic. Parents can receive immediate support and learn about wellness services by calling 1-888-793-4357. The hotline is open 24/7.
The District will also begin hosting Wellness Wednesday online meetings for parents and caregivers, the first of which will take place on September 2 at 5:30pm.
Food access: Students who receive free and reduced priced meals during the school year will continue to receive meals as part of their virtual first term. However, these meal locations may differ from a family’s summer meal pickup location, and so families should be sure to confirm meal site locations with their schools.
At the end of August, USDA’s waiver program that allows SNAP users to skip the timely in-person recertification process ends. DC’s new mobile app program, DC Access, allows SNAP users (individuals and families) an easy, safe way to sign up for benefits or re-certify from home. For more food access resources, please visit DC Hunger or DC Health.
Coverage for high-risk workers: Mayor Bowser on Tuesday mandated that all DC-licensed health insurers cover COVID-19 testing at no cost for certain high-risk residents. This requirement will cover high-risk individuals through the duration of the public health emergency.
High risk states: On Monday, DC added Hawaii, and South Dakota to the high-risk states list. New Mexico and Montana were removed. This list is updated twice monthly. For more details, click here.
Contact tracing: This week, DC’s COVID-19 contact tracers began making home visits. Home visits are conducted when the contact tracers have not been able to complete their interviews over the phone.
Free, walk-up testing and testing by appointment continues to be offered across the District. Click here for a full list of walk-up sites, firehouse locations, and appointment-only sites. Save time at the District's walk-up testing sites by pre-registering at coronavirus.dc.gov/register.
Plasma donation: Some of you may have heard that the FDA recently authorized the use of plasma as an experimental treatment for COVID-19. If you are interested in learning more about the experimental treatment and/or in donating plasma, please check out the FDA’s website.
Until September 4, 2020, DC will be accepting applications to a new grant program for community and private organizations that offer legal services and programs to immigrants living in the District. The Immigrant Justice Legal Services grant program will make $2.5 million available to support services including but not limited to:
- Know Your Rights briefings and workshops
- Brief and full legal representations
- Legal representation services in some low-income D.C. immigrant tenant/residential landlord disputes
- Language access services, including interpretation of legal documents
WMATA will increase the frequency of their bus and rail service starting this week. In addition to increasing service frequency, metro rail service will also have new hours: 5:00am-11:00pm on weekdays, 7:00am-11:00pm on Saturdays, and 8:00am-11:00pm on Sundays. Click here for more details on rail service and here for more details on bus frequency and schedules.
There are no planned service changes due to Friday’s planned March on Washington.
Also, starting this Sunday, service for three DC Circulator bus routes will be extended to 11 p.m. The extended routes are Union Station to Georgetown, Rosslyn to Dupont Circle, and Woodley Park to Adams Morgan to McPherson Square. Rides will continue to be free due to the public health emergency and face coverings must be worn at all times. Click here to learn more.
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.
- 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.
- LISC Small Business Relief Grants: The next round opens on August 31, 2020. Click here to sign up to be notified of when to apply!
- Ward 7 & 8 Microbusiness Dream Grants: The Department of Small and Local Business Development is taking applications for the Ward 7 and 8 2021 Microbusiness Dream Grants from August 15, 2020 until September 30, 2020. The grants are to provide business development support to the growth of microbusinesses in Wards 7 and 8. Between 20-25 grants of up to $10,000 each will be awarded.
- 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.
- Database to Lookup Mortgage Deferrals: This tool will allow anyone to look up whether or not a particular address and landlord has received a deferral. If your landlord has not passed on their deferral to you and you are struggling to negotiate with them, you can contact the DC Pro Bono Center or the Legal Aid Society for assistance.
- Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) Pet Resources: (HRA) continues to operate their Pet Pantry at six different locations every month. They also have excellent tips for keeping your pet safe in this intense heat.
- Unemployment Assistance: http://www.elissasilverman.com/coronavirus