Principals, some parents pushing back on staffing plan for DCPS

As D.C. Public Schools continues to plan for an in-person reopening for most elementary school students, principals, through their union and in a letter to families, say the plan to reassign some middle and high school staff members to elementary school-based virtual learning classrooms will hurt older students.

In planning for a November 9 reopening, DCPS is offering 7,000 pre-K through 5th-grade students live in-person instruction, while 14,000 other students will be accommodated in CARES classrooms.

READ MORE: DC nurses union claims city ignored recommendations amid reopening process

CARES classrooms will involve students continuing virtual learning, but inside a school building under the supervision of non-teaching staff.

DCPS informed principals at middle and high schools that staff members, in many cases 10 or more, would be reassigned to CARES classrooms at elementary schools.

Recently, Cardozo Education Campus Principal Arthur Mola criticized the plan in a letter to families.

"I'm emailing/calling you from a place of pain and hope. Last Tuesday middle and high school principals received the terrible news that they were losing their supervise elementary school CARES classrooms," Mola said. He also encouraged families to lobby the mayor, chancellor and councilmembers to have them rethink the plan.

READ MORE: DC Public Schools announce plan to get elementary students back in class by November 9

Several parents have also shared their concerns about the reshuffling of staff members from their support roles for older students.

"We have such a close-knit community among the teachers and staff with the students and we can't afford to lose. It will irreparably damage the relationship and the culture of our school and that's not something that we will accept willingly without exploring all options as to what we can do to keep our staff," said Sherice Muhammad, a McKinley Technology High School parent.

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In a statement to FOX 5, DCPS said: "In order to meet our priority of providing a safe and supportive in-person learning environment for our youngest learners and those farthest from opportunity, we have called upon the entire DCPS community to be part of our term 2 learning models."

DCPS has still not revealed how many teachers will return for in-person learning. It also has not shared under which health metrics it would return to virtual-learning only but stressed that in several schools that have served small groups for a few weeks there have been no positive cases associated with those campuses.