School Reopening: Teacher and Librarian Views

Updated with recording and resources, 7/8/20 1:30 EDT

Equal access, inclusion at a distance, and basic health and safety are crucial and urgent concerns for schools and their libraries amidst pandemic. WTU President Elizabeth Davis and AASL President Kathy Carroll share teacher and librarian perspectives on reopening plans in DC and across the nation. On We Act Radio’s July 8 “Community thru Covid.”

Elizabeth Davis, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union, joins “Community thru Covid” at the top of the hour, and Kathy Carroll, president of the American Association of School Librarians, joins at 11:30.

Unedited FB Live video — program begins at 15:00 mark — please be patient with delays and occasionally scrambled sound.

Intent to Return: DC Teachers Demand Answers First

DC Public Schools teachers are asked to file an “intent to return” statement prior to DCPS “having provided specifics around the conditions of our schools and the protections in place for staff and students to ensure safety,” according to the WTU. President Elizabeth Davis shares teacher views on this and other pandemic-related concerns, including yesterday’s FY21 Budget vote.

For more on teacher input and concerns, visit “WTU: Return to School Guidelines Issued without Teacher Input .”

Only 17% of teachers surveyed said their school had enough space for reopening in pandemic conditions. From WTU’s “Reopening Our Schools” report

More on Reopening

Asked how their planning reflected the Task Force Report, DCPS responded with a statement saying, “DCPS will continue to gather critical feedback from our entire community and we look forward to sharing more details as soon as they are available” (full text below). Davis reported that WTU members continue to express major concerns and are not submitting the “intent to return” materials until full plans are in place.

Check back for more from WTU on how parents, teachers, and others can support safe, healthy, and equitable planning for the new academic year.

Budget Asks

Meanwhile, DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson stated at the July 7 Council session that he “only hears from advocates,” not citizens, although he had asked individuals to let him know their needs for computers, internet, etc. Davis encouraged individuals to contact him directly as he requested.

  • Does your family have computers for every student?
  • Broadband internet access?
  • A school librarian?
  • A well-resourced and updated school library?
  • Counselors?
  • PPE and space/hygiene plans for when buildings are re-opened?

Let Council Chair Mendelson know — Contact details here.

The Washington Teachers Union and other advocates have asked for $11 million for digital equipment as well as funds for PPE and other needs not included in the FY21 Budget as it stands.

School Libraries: Books, Technology, Cleaning, and Inclusion

How are school libraries and librarians helping students through this pandemic? How are schools supporting librarians? AASL President Kathy Carroll, shares perspectives from school libraries around the country, joining the show at the halfway mark.

The AASL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), dedicated to empowering leaders to transform teaching and learning. Through the pandemic, the professional association has been working to assess needs for distance learning and returning to schools, while also working to expand equity, diversity, and inclusion in collections, services, and and library spaces.

Carroll invited library and school professionals as well as other community members to make use of the many and varied resources available on their Knowledge Quest pages. Advice specific to the pandemic is also available through their website.

Visit for resources

DCPS emailed statement July 8, 2020

DCPS is working to ensure that we have a safe and successful start to the next school year for our students and staff. Last month, DCPS gathered feedback from our teachers, students, and staff through surveys and regularly engaged the Washington Teachers’ Union around the preferences and supports needed to safely reopen in the fall. To contribute to our robust planning efforts, we’ve issued preliminary guidance and requested additional input from the DCPS workforce, including central office staff and educators. As we move forward with planning for a strong start to the school year, DCPS will continue to gather critical feedback from our entire community and we look forward to sharing more details as soon as they are available.

On teacher dialogue around reopening: DCPS concluded two weeks of professional development that focused on learning from this spring’s learning at home period and the best ways to support a safe and successful start to the next school year. DCPS has also sought input from teachers through surveys and a focus group with the Chancellors Teacher Advisory Board and is looking forward to continuing to engage teachers on plans for reopening.


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