Students across the region are getting ready to head back to school soon but the real question is, are school buildings, administrators and teachers prepared to receive their students?

COVID created significant disruption to students’ academic lives over the past two years despite efforts by administrators, with the aid of local businesses and community organizations, that offered support to students and families through the process. In many ways, virtual learning failed for most students here and across the country who, according to research, suffered significant learning loss and social-emotional progress as a result.

To put it plainly, the last two academic years were a catastrophe and the 2022-23 academic year will prove how far and fast schools will have rebounded from all they have suffered. 

DC Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee is expected to hold a town hall meeting on Thursday, August 18, according to a recent newsletter distributed by Mayor Muriel Bowser. Ferebee will share important dates and how “DCPS is preparing to welcome students and staff to School Year 2022-23” on Facebook Live at 5 PM. He will share updates on student immunizations, health and safety, academics, attendance, and more.

Mayor Bowser and the D.C. Department of Health forewarned parents about mandatory vaccine requirements. Students attending DCPS, private parochial, and independent schools must have an up-to-date immunization certification on file or present it within the first 20-school days of the school year. If not, they will not be allowed to attend school or participate in school activities. 

In April, the D.C. Council voted to reduce the number of resource officers provided by MPD. Last year, teachers reported an increase in disruptive behavior among students in the classrooms and many of those incidents spilled into the streets. With reportedly 60 fewer school resource officers this year, schools will have to rely more on violence interrupters posted in neighborhoods surrounding the most troubled schools. 

These are just two of the concerns Chancellor Ferebee is expected to address in his town hall meeting, which we would encourage DCPS to also post on its website at dcps.dc.gov. Other significant concerns include transportation, food, and before and after-school programs.

We strongly believe in the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” A successful school year for all students exists in the classroom but it begins at home and extends to the community beyond the school walls.

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