Frequently Asked Questions for Families about the 2020-2021 School Year.

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Pandemic-EBT Update for DCPS Students

For all questions related to the DC Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program please visit DHS’s P-EBT webpage and complete the web form to contact the Department of Human Services. Information about P-EBT funds distributed from October 2020 to present is not yet available as the District does not have a P-EBT plan that has been approved by the federal government. To ensure the P-EBT card is received quickly once they become available, families should contact their school to make sure their current mailing address is on file.

Though all meals will be served free of charge for DCPS students learning in school and at open meal sites for SY 20/21, we encourage families with children who do not attend a CEP school to complete the Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) application as soon as possible to ensure maximum P-EBT benefits are received once they become available. More information on FARM can be found here. Paper FARM applications can be picked up and submitted at any open DCPS meal site or in the office at non-CEP schools.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Meals

What are the learning model options for Term 2?

For our elementary school students in grades PK-5th, they have two opportunities to return to school – CARE Classrooms or In-Person Learning Classrooms — and the availability of each option is staff dependent. To ensure continuity with semester schedules and consistency in grading practices, all 6th-12th grade students will continue with the learning at home model through Term 2, with a possible transition to in-person learning at the start of Term 3. We recognize returning to school may not be the preference of every family. Learning at home will still be available for all DCPS students from Pre-K through 12th Grade.

What are the hours of Student CARE Classrooms?

The schedule and operations for Student CARE classrooms will vary by school. CARE Classrooms meet five days a week and Wednesdays will be a half day.

Elementary (K-5)

How are DCPS and the WTU working together to ensure teachers feel safe to return to in-person learning?

DCPS is fully committed to meeting all appropriate safety precautions, as detailed by DC Health, to ensure a safe reopening for students and staff. We are proud to have worked collaboratively with the Washington Teachers’ Union on an agreement reached in December 2020 that represents our shared commitment to ensuring students have the high-quality education and supports they need to thrive, and our teachers and staff feel safe and prepared to return to school buildings.

What is the order of operations for the student selection process that will prioritize students furthest from opportunity?

This message is archived. All schools are preparing reopening plans to share with their school community in January and will open for in-person programming at the start of Term 3, as health conditions allow.

The Student Selection Process will consist of running three different matching processes:

  • In-Person Instruction classrooms
  • Self-Contained classrooms
  • CARE classrooms

We are prioritizing classroom seats for our elementary students with the highest need based on current enrollment information. Through a random selection process, we will prioritize by grade level by school:

  • Students experiencing homelessness
  • Students who receive special education services or who are English Learners
  • Students who are designated as At-Risk
  • All other enrolled students 

Self-contained in-person learning classroom seats, for students receiving special education services with more intensive needs, will be prioritized by class by school in the following order:

  • Students experiencing homelessness
  • All other enrolled students in the class

We will also give siblings in the same school a preference in the process to keep them on the same schedule, where possible (first siblings in priority groups, then all other siblings). 

Students in the priority groups outlined above who are not initially matched with a seat for in-person learning will be put on a waitlist. Among priority students, siblings of students who have been matched will be at the top of the waitlist. After siblings, students in priority groups will be on the waitlist based on a random number assignment. Non-priority group students will be waitlisted last, based on random number assignment.

DCPS has partnered with OCTO to develop the requirements for the algorithm that will assign students based on eligibility and preference criteria. OCTO is using the software program that My School DC uses in order to ensure a fair and equitable process. Results of this selection process will be shared with parents who have been matched with a seat, but not posted publicly.

Will schools conduct fire drills when they return to in-person learning and Student CARE classrooms?

Yes, we are planning on conducting fire drills and will be providing guidance to school leaders in the coming weeks on how to conduct them, accounting for the current health conditions.  

When will final daily schedules be available that will show what students can expect each day for in-person learning and the Student CARE classroom?

In early January, the DCPS Reopen Community Corps will host its final meeting learning models for In-Person Learning and CARE classrooms in Term 3. Schools will announce Term 3 learning models mid-January. 

Will there be an opportunity to tour my school building before I accept my in-person or CARE classroom seat?

All school facilities are being prepared through a rigorous, standardized process centered on the development of an individual operational school plan, school building preparation, and walkthroughs to ensure readiness for student and staff return. Throughout this process, we want to reduce the number of visitors present in school buildings to limit exposure as per our health and safety guidelines. As a result, we cannot allow individual visits for all of the school community. Instead, principals will be leading planned site visits for LSAT, PTA, and union representatives.

All schools are receiving detailed guidance and intensive technical assistance to guide the development of individualized operational plans prior to reopening. DCPS Central Office will review those plans and then schools will be able to share details with their school community once plans are finalized. 

If I accept an offer for my child to have an in-person seat, can I change my mind and go back to virtual learning?

In line with our health and safety commitments, we prefer to maintain consistent and stable cohorts. However, we know family circumstances change and in-person learning or a Student CARE classroom may not work for everyone. As such, any family may switch to learning at home at any point by contacting their school. If a student does move to learning at home, they may not be able to return to in-person learning or CARE classrooms during the current term.

Can schools make an appeal to offer seats for in-person learning that are not selected through the randomized selection process?

We are prioritizing classroom seats for our elementary students with the highest need based on current enrollment information. Through a random selection process, we will prioritize by grade level at each school:

  • Students experiencing homelessness
  • Students who receive special education services or who are English Learners
  • Students who are designated as At-Risk
  • All other enrolled students 

We know that our school leaders know their students and families best, and there may be extenuating factors or circumstances impacting student learning that school leaders may want to appeal for additional students not granted a seat through the initial selection process. Principals will be provided with written guidance and need to submit a rationale and documentation two days after seats are released. All appeals will be reviewed and approved by the Instructional Superintendent.

Will students who return to in-person learning need to transport virtual learning devices to and from school?

We recognize the challenges to safety and security that transporting technology devices to and from school each day poses for students. As such, students will not need to transport devices to and from school. Students who have a DCPS device they are utilizing for virtual learning will bring devices back to school where they will remain for their in-person learning needs.

How will DCPS identify and select staff members for the Student CARE classrooms?

The role of the Student CARE classroom staff is to provide students a supervised virtual learning setting within a safe and consistent space (school building) to engage in their existing virtual classes – as such, a teacher is not required for this role.

We will identify school-based staff, central office staff, other DC government staff, and partners as potential groups to fill these roles. They will be identified in part by a staff survey that allows employees to request consideration for a virtual assignment in alignment with guidance from DC Health, the CDC, and federal and local laws.

We have designated additional training days for all staff to ensure they are prepared to support new health and safety routines and support students’ virtual learning. Adults in CARE classrooms will undergo an FBI background check, including a criminal background check and child abuse clearance check.

How are DCPS and the WTU working together to ensure teachers feel safe to return to in-person learning?

DCPS is fully committed to meeting all appropriate safety precautions, as detailed by DC Health, to ensure a safe reopening for students and staff. Meetings between DCPS and the WTU leadership on SY20-21 reopening have taken place since May 2020, and we are proud to have reached an agreement that represents our shared commitment to ensuring students have the high-quality education and supports they need to thrive. We look forward to expanding in-person learning opportunities throughout the District.

Will DCPS regularly test staff and students who return to in-person learning for COVID-19?

DCPS is committed to putting in place robust health and safety protocols for staff and students to help protect the safety and health of all. 

DC Health’s guidance does not require testing of staff and students to return to in-person learning. Instead, and aligned with this guidance, all DCPS schools will require daily symptom self-screenings prior to arrival where parents and guardians will be asked to proactively identify when their student exhibits COVID-19 symptoms or has been exposed by using the Ask, Ask, Look protocol prior to arrival each day. Upon arrival, students and staff will have their temperatures checked and will be assessed for visible signs of illness before entering the building.

Will immunizations be required for SY20-21 in-person attendance for Term 3?

Ensuring your child receives the right vaccinations at the right age is one of the most important ways to help them stay healthy and keep serious diseases at a distance. As such, an up-to-date immunization record is required for in-person attendance for Term 3.

Families who receive an offer for a classroom seat must have an immunization certification for their student submitted by their first day of in-person attendance. Students without documentation will not be admitted.

For more information on immunization requirements, visit our student health page.

How did DCPS arrive at the Term 2 reopening model?

This message is archived. For information on the Term 3 learning model, visit dcpsreopenstrong.com/schedule/term3.

To determine the best way to welcome staff and students back into our schools in Term 2, we prioritized:

  • Providing a safe and supportive learning space for our youngest learners – where we see more challenges with virtual learning
  • Offering in-person instruction for students with known opportunity gaps to mitigate learning loss
  • Maximizing learning time and maintaining the integrity of the instructional program for all students – whether at school or at home.

Since secondary courses are built on semester schedules, middle and high school students will continue learning at home to ensure continuity of the learning experience and consistency in grading practices. DCPS will consider a transition to in-person learning for grades 6-12 in Term 3.

How is DCPS preparing my school for in-person learning?

DCPS’ work to prepare for a strong reopening is grounded in prioritizing the health and safety of our entire school community. Using guidance issued by DC Health, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we developed a set of building readiness standards to ensure schools are prepared to welcome back students and staff. DCPS central office teams are working directly with schools to ensure they are prepared to welcome students and staff, and that building readiness standards are met for Term 2 in November. Those standards are listed here.

DCPS has also issued a comprehensive handbook and templates to support school planning, including guidance on Schoolwide Health & Safety Supports; Staff Health & Safety; Student Services, Procedures, Health & Safety; and COVID-19 Response Protocols.

What is the difference between an enhanced daily cleaning at school and a weekly deep cleaning?

Enhanced Cleaning will be the daily standard cleaning routines custodial staff complete with particular focus on all frequently touched surfaces in common areas and restrooms, including but not limited to doorknobs and push/pulls, light switches, elevator buttons, tables, sink faucets, toilets, chairs, and any other common area hard surfaces.

Deep Cleaning will continue to occur during scheduled school breaks and as needed, per DC Health guidance, related to any COVID-19 exposure. This includes all vertical and horizontal surfaces in the school building in addition to the practices outlined above, using additional dedicated time to thoroughly clean all surfaces students and staff may encounter inside the school building. 

How will schools limit interactions between classrooms?

Students will be scheduled in small groups that will stay in their classroom for most of the day. Students will eat breakfast and lunch in their classroom. Classrooms will have scheduled, staggered recess and dismissal times to limit interactions between classrooms.

Can schools consider setting up outdoor classrooms to support further social distancing?

Yes. In addition to ensuring schools’ indoor spaces are adapted based on health and safety guidelines, it is recommended that schools consider using outdoor spaces for learning where feasible. The tents that schools will be utilizing at arrival in the morning are portable and can be repurposed as coverage for outdoor learning and working space if space is available on school grounds.

How many students will DCPS be able to serve in person?

Following the guidelines of our health and safety protocols and pending staffing availability, DCPS can serve approximately 75 percent of enrolled PK-5 students in classrooms in Term 2. This translates to approximately 21,000 classroom seats.

While we cannot guarantee a seat for all students, we know some families want to continue the learning at home experience.

Will students in grades 6 through 12 be eligible for in-person programming in Term 2?

This message is archived. For information on the Term 3 learning model, visit dcpsreopenstrong.com/schedule/term3.

Secondary (6-12)

Who is eligible to attend an in-person learning classroom?

This message is archived. It is our hope to allow more students, especially those furthest from opportunity, to return to schools and receive the high-quality instruction and critical supports that prepare them for lifelong success.

All students who were enrolled as of October 5, 2020 will be eligible for a seat. DCPS is committed to prioritizing in-person learning seats for students furthest from opportunity. As such, students who fall within the following categories will have preference for the available in-person learning seats:

  • Students experiencing homelessness,
  • English Learners and students with Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs), and
  • Students identified as At-Risk. (This includes students in the foster care system, and students who qualify for TANF or SNAP.)

The process will also give a preference to siblings. Siblings who are members of the groups listed above will be prioritized over siblings who are not members of these groups.

What are the classroom sizes for the in-person learning options?

We will continue to prioritize student and staff safety during in-person learning. We have determined the number of students who can safely be in each learning space according to CDC Health guidelines that allow for social distancing. Each classroom may enroll up to:

  • 8 students in PK3
  • 10 students in PK4 and K
  • 11 students in grades 1 – 5

Self-contained special education classes will have even smaller classes than described above.

What are the hours of Student CARE classrooms?

The schedule and operations for Student CARE classrooms will vary by school. Schools will share their individual reopening plans with families in January.

Will transportation be provided?

Transportation will be provided if it is already on the students’ IEP as a related service.

Special Education

What is a self-contained special education class?

This is full-time, outside-of-general-education instruction for some students with IEPs. In DCPS, this includes students who are already enrolled in Early Learning Supports (ELS), Communication and Education Supports (CES), Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH), Behavior and Education Supports (BES), Independence and Learning Supports (ILS), Medical and Educational Supports (MES) and Specific Learning Supports (SLS). Students in self-contained programs and River Terrace Education Campus will be welcomed back at half student capacity and full staff capacity.

Special Education

What is a Student CARE Classroom?

Canvas Academics and Real Engagement (CARE) classrooms provide supervised virtual learning that provide students with a safe, consistent space to engage in virtual classes while receiving support from caring adults. Students continue their virtual learning with a small group of classmates within the school building.

CARE Classroom programming at select PK-5 grade schools starting opening on November 18 continued through January. Learn more at dcpsreopenstrong.com/schedule/care.

Elementary (K-5)

Will aftercare be available for students who return to in-person learning in Term 2?

This message is archived.

Afterschool Care

What will Term 3 look like?

It is our hope to allow more students, especially those furthest from opportunity, to return to schools and receive the high-quality instruction and critical supports that prepare them for lifelong success.

We will make an assessment around the success of Term 2 and use that to influence our decision-making for Term 3.

Will PE or recess be available to students?

Yes. Students should only play with those in their cohort. Outdoor recess is highly encouraged if the school has a field for use. An indoor space can only be used if outdoor space isn’t sufficient or the weather doesn’t permit use. PE guidance is being developed on how to keep students physically active in their own “circles of space” (e.g. yoga, individual activities in marked off spaces).

Will DCPS share when COVID-19 cases occur during in-person learning?

Hand in hand with our commitment to provide a safe learning environment is our commitment to transparency and clear lines of communications to families on all issues related to COVID-19.  

Should there be a confirmed, positive case of an individual in a school building, we will notify students and staff; provide self-quarantine instructions to close contacts; and follow all steps outlined by DC Health and the CDC for cleaning, disinfection, and sanitizing. To minimize the impact of a positive case on the entire school, students will be grouped in cohorts that do not have close contact with other cohorts. 

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)CommunicationsHealth

Are school HVAC systems being inspected and repaired in all school buildings to ensure proper air quality and filtration?

Air quality is critical for the health of those who occupy a school building. DCPS is currently working with the Department of General Services (DGS) to ensure our HVAC systems are up to code for in-person learning in a school building. 

The purpose of HVAC enhancements is to ensure that a greater volume of fresh air enters our school buildings and that we have increased filtration. This goes above and beyond normal operations. The goal of this effort is to reduce both in-room and room-to-room transmission within school buildings. To accomplish this, schools will have either have increased fresh air through an existing Direct Outside Air System (DOAS) and installation of MERV-13/MERV-14 filters or have High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters placed in learning areas. All DCPS schools will receive an HVAC enhancement and these improvements align with The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommendations.  

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Operations

What supplies will be provided to schools to support social distancing protocols and space modifications?

DCPS central office will help supply the following modifications with the custodial and operational staff at each school supporting with set up and site preparation: 

  • Tents for student arrival and use for outdoor learning if field space allows on school grounds 
  • Stanchions, cones, and barricade ropes for helping staff and students abide by social distancing guidelines during arrival to school 
  • Plexiglass table-top dividers for reception and security areas where staff will have to interact with visitors and families in closer proximity than six feet 
  • Clear screen dividers to separate designated spaces such as the Health Isolation Room and better facilitate social distancing should multiple students with symptoms be directed there at the same time 
  • Six feet spacing disks and floor tape to visualize social distancing for students and staff as they move around the school building 
  • Carpet tiles in classrooms for younger students to help facilitate social distancing 
  • Door jambs to prop open doors whenever students are scheduled to move throughout the building (e.g. arrival, dismissal, transitions) 

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)HealthOperations

How will DCPS screen for COVID-19 symptoms among staff and students?

For staff returning to work in-person on a daily basis and students returning to in-person learning, DCPS will require daily symptom self-screenings to help protect the safety and health of all. For all District employees reporting to a physical work location and students reporting to school, required screenings will be completed via participation in a short survey. Upon arrival at the school building, staff will be required to log onto a DCPS system and confirm that they have completed a health screening self-assessment prior to their arrival at the school and that they are experiencing no COVID-19 symptoms.  

Students will be required to have written documentation verifying that a daily symptom screening was conducted by their parent or guardian prior to coming to schools and will have their temperatures checked and a visible symptom screening conducted upon arrival at school.  

An individual that does not pass the health screening should not enter the school and instead should isolate immediately and call their healthcare provider to determine next steps. Students who are not able to go home alone will be escorted to the health isolation room until they can be picked up by a parent/guardian. 

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Health

When and how do I know if my student received a seat for in-person learning?

This message is archived. Information on CARE classroom seating will be available in January.

Families will receive notification via email by October 23 followed by a call from the school if they received a seat. Families can also call their school after results are released to confirm their status.  

Schools will call all matched families within the first 2 days of releasing matches. Once the school speaks to a family, the family has up to 2 school days to confirm their seat. If a family does not respond within that timeframe, they will lose their offer and their student will continue with learning at home. If a school cannot reach a family, they will keep trying, but a seat will not be held for more than 5 school days for non-response.    

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)

What are the learning model options for Term 3?

All schools, from Pre-K through 12, are preparing reopening plans to share with their school community in January and will open for in-person programming at the start of Term 3, as health conditions allow.

For more information, visit Term 3 Planning.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)

When will families hear from the district about the option for their child to return in-person?

Families will be notified by mid-October should an In-Person Learning Classroom seat be available to them.  

Families will be notified in by the end of October regarding seats in Student CARE Classrooms.   

A family will always have the option to continue learning at home and can decline a matched seat. 

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)

How much do meals cost?

Meals will be free for all DC youth ages 18 and younger and DC Public School students participating in in-person learning programing through June 30, 2021.

For students enrolled at non-CEP schools, Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) applications must be completed every school year to determine your student’s eligibility for FARM benefits. Families that believe they may qualify for FARM benefits are still encouraged to apply online now at www.myschoolapps.com/Application, in person at a meal pick-up site, or at their local school to prevent any disruption in meal service and qualification for any additional benefits.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Meals

What do meals consist of?

Breakfast and lunch meals will meet the USDA Child Nutrition meal pattern requirements based on each program. Meals consist of an entrée, fruit serving and/or vegetable serving, and a milk. If a student requires dietary accommodations, please contact DCPS Food & Nutrition Services at dietary.forms@k12.dc.gov, or request the dietary accommodations form from staff at any open meal site.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Meals

How do youth ages 18 and younger get meals?

DC youth ages 18 and younger may receive up to three breakfast and lunch meals daily at one of the 47 school locations. Parents/guardians are welcome to pick up a meal packs on behalf of youth. To ensure the safety of other meal site attendees and staff please follow guidelines outlined by the Mayor’s Office and DC Health regarding coronavirus when visiting meal site locations.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Meals

Who is eligible to receive meals through a DCPS Meal Site?

Any DC youth, ages 18 and under can receive free breakfast and lunch meals at DCPS meal sites through June 30th 2021.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Meals

In the event of school closure, can students complete virtual community service opportunities?

Yes, students can complete virtual community service opportunities in the event of school closure. The DCPS Counseling team will forward all virtual community service opportunities to school counselors. Students and families can also access virtual community service opportunities on our Twitter page.

Secondary (6-12)

Can I create my own community service hour experience?

Any new community service opportunity must receive pre-approval from the DCPS Counseling Team. Please email us at DCPS.Counseling@k12.dc.gov.  

Secondary (6-12)

Who can I contact to verify my student’s community service hour progress?

Please contact your community service person of contact (POC) or counselor to verify your student’s community service progress.

Secondary (6-12)

How can schools verify community service hours?

The community service person of contact (POC) or counselor must ensure that students include the tax ID (EIN#) on the community service form. You can also verify tax ID numbers on the IRS website. If the POC cannot find the tax ID number, the POC can contact the site supervisor listed on the community service form. Community service POCs may request more information from the student or site supervisor.

Secondary (6-12)

When do students need to submit community service hours to their school community service coordinator or POC?

Students should submit their community service hour form within 30 days of completing the community service hours. For graduating seniors, all remaining community service hours that count towards meeting the 100-hour graduation requirement are due by the Friday before the Memorial Day holiday in May.

Secondary (6-12)

Where can I access the community service hour form?

Staff members can access the community service hour form here. Students are responsible for completing all sections of the form including securing signatures, documenting time in and out of community service, and completing the community service reflection. The community service POC or school counselor will have paper copies of the community service form at the middle or high school.

Secondary (6-12)

How many hours of community service can a student earn?

Students can earn up to 8 hours of community series in a 24-hour period. There is no maximum number of hours a company or organization can award overall.

Secondary (6-12)

What types of community service can students complete?

Students may complete community service that falls into these three categories:

  1. Direct Service: face-to-face contact between DCPS students and beneficiaries of the community service
  2. Indirect Service: support provided by students on issues related to the community, including fundraising, collections, and providing technical assistance.
  3. Advocacy: students participate in tasks to influence change in their community, including letter writing and presenting before public officials. Advocacy tasks must remain non-partisan in nature.

Secondary (6-12)

Can students use middle school community service hours toward their high school graduation requirement?

Yes, students can use middle school community service hours after they have been promoted to the 8th Grade. The service activity still must meet the requirements of community service hours. Middle school counselors will document hours in the student information system prior to students entering the 9th Grade.

Secondary (6-12)

What is Virtual In-School Suspension?

Virtual In-School Suspension (VISS) is an alternative learning environment for those students who are experiencing difficulties while Learning at Home. This space will allow students to reflect, engage in SEL curricula and classroom assignments with the ISS Coordinator. VISS can be monitored by any of the following stakeholders: ISS Coordinator, Dean, Behavior Tech, or another non-instructional staff member who has been trained on the ISS Guidance and Student Behavior Tracker. Students who are fulfilling Virtual In-School suspensions are considered present for that day.

Behavior Policy

What is the potential impact of unexcused absences on my child’s grades and promotion to the next grade?

For the 2020-2021 school year, attendance is not a prerequisite for grades and promotion.

What is considered “tardy” when a student is learning at home?

We encourage students to log in regularly to their scheduled courses and complete assignments. However, due to a wide range of schedules and lessons, students who are tardy will not be penalized in their attendance records when learning at home.

What will occur if my child misses more than 20 days consecutively of instruction when learning at home?

If a student registered in school is absent 20 days in a row without an excuse (i.e., does not log into Canvas or contact their school to indicate attendance), they may be withdrawn due to non-attendance. This applies to all students in Pre-K through 12th grade regardless of whether they are in-boundary or out-of-boundary. Students can return to their neighborhood school to re-enroll but are subject to the wait list if they are attempting to re-enroll in an out-of-boundary school.

How will I know if my child’s school is offering in-person care?

Staff from your child’s school or collaborating school program provider will reach out to families if in-person care becomes available to your child. You may also reach out to dcps.partnerships@k12.dc.gov or your typical before/aftercare provider to inquire about opportunities.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Out Of School Time

Will DCPS offer before and afterschool programming during the virtual learning period?

DCPS will not sponsor virtual before or afterschool programming while DCPS is in an all-virtual stance. Partners who typically provide before or afterschool programming are encouraged to collaborate with DCPS to provide in-person care for small groups of students during the school day, in alignment with DCPS and Department of Health guidelines, where students are able to engage in their virtual learning and enrichment opportunities. Partner programming that is offered in DCPS buildings will be free of charge to families. Partners funded independently from DCPS are able to provide virtual afterschool programming to families who choose to enroll.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Out Of School Time

My child has a non-DCPS educational event on a school day. Is that considered excused?

Generally, absences not listed here on the attendance page, including extended travel, are considered unexcused. If a student or parent/guardian anticipates an absence not covered by the excused absences listed, they may submit a request for an excused absence due to a special circumstance to their school principal. The principal will consult with their Instructional Superintendent before determining whether to grant the excused absence request.

My child missed learning from home for an entire day. What types of absences are considered “excused” and how do I notify the school?

Any absence for an entire day without a valid excuse is marked as an unexcused absence. When learning at home, an absence is when a student does not log in to Canvas and/or call the school to indicate they completed their coursework through another mechanism, such as paper packets due to technology issues. Click here for a list of absences that may be classified as an excused absence.

Will my child be considered absent for the day if they do not participate in synchronous (live) instruction?

No. While it is important that students are engaging with their teacher during live instruction, attendance will not be taken at the course level. Students’ daily attendance expectation is that they log into Canvas at least once a day. If this requirement is met, students will not be considered absent.

When does virtual instruction start for Pre-K students?

The first day of learning at home for Pre-K students will be Thursday, September 3. However, teachers will be in touch with families to schedule virtual meetings to introduce themselves and get to know your student between August 31 and September 2. 

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)

Will I lose my child’s PK3 or PK4 seat in their school, if they opt out of virtual learning and do not participate until in-person learning resumes?

Pre-K seats will not be held for families who do not enroll. If a student does not attend (either learning at home virtual instruction or hybrid, if/when that is available), they will lose their seat.

For learning at home, attendance will be recorded based on the student / family logging into Canvas, DCPS’ Learning Management System, each day between 6:00 am and 11:59 pm.

If a student is un-enrolled from their Pre-K class, either due to parent choice or zero attendance, they will need to reapply in the school lottery for the following school year (unless entering Kindergarten at their neighborhood school).

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)Enrollment

How is DCPS accommodating families that want to participate in virtual learning, but are not able to participate in all live lessons due to work schedules or other family circumstances?

DCPS understands the need to provide flexibility for student attendance, particularly for young learners and working families. For this reason, the online platforms and access to daily lessons for PK students will be flexible to accommodate participation with varying daily schedules.

DCPS expects enrolled families to participate in virtual learning activities and record attendance daily on Canvas.

Even if not participating in live lessons, students and families will still have access to important instructional content on Canvas. Through the online learning tool, you will find resources and supports for learning at home that are critical to kindergarten readiness, a key goal of DCPS early childhood programs.

DCPS has a limited number of Pre-K seats, and we want to ensure children with the highest needs have the opportunity to participate in this program.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)

I am concerned that my Pre-K child will not consistently engage in virtual-only learning at home. How will this will impact their attendance?

We understand the unique needs of this age group and recognize that young children learn best through active engagement and cannot be expected to thrive in a digital-only environment.

We also know families may have childcare arrangements or other circumstances that may not make it possible to join live, online lessons. The online platforms and access to daily lessons for Pre-K students will be flexible as we look to accommodate participation with varying daily schedules.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)

My child is very active and has difficulty sitting in front of the computer for more than a few minutes. How will the ECE virtual learning model / curriculum support their learning?

Daily schedules for PK3 and PK4 students are being developed with our youngest learners in mind. Your child’s learning at home schedule will include short bursts of live, virtual instruction with teachers every day (30-60 minutes daily). It will also include ample opportunities for child-directed play and off-line learning with adult support.

This off-line learning will include simple activities that caregivers can incorporate into their daily routines in order to promote learning. These resources will be posted on Canvas and will support parents and caregivers in understanding how they can incorporate literacy and math skills into daily activities such as sorting clothes, making dinner, and taking a walk.

Early Childhood (PK3-PK4)

How will virtual learning look different in School Year 2020-2021 than in Spring 2020?

In virtual learning, students will feel loved by their school community, challenged by a joyful and rigorous curriculum, and prepared to take the next steps in their learning. We spent the spring and summer working with over 200 teachers and staff to transfer our curriculum to an online learning management system, which will allow for a more user-friendly, efficient and organized approach to virtual learning.

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Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)

What will a student’s schedule look like in the virtual setting?

Pre-Kindergarten 3 and 4 (PK3 and PK4): Short, small bursts of learning and individual learning activities are most effective for our youngest learners. Therefore, the PK3 and PK4 structure of the day will include lessons in small groups focusing on developing a love of learning, and individualized lessons that families can also join. The PK3 and PK4 schedule will also include asynchronous (watch videos on your own at any time) lessons for art, music and other skills so that families can access lessons when it works for their children. PK3 and PK4 students will have live learning and asynchronous lessons for an average total of about 2-3 hours per day.

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Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)

What will my child need to be successful in virtual learning?

All students will need the following items for successful virtual learning:

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Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)

What if I don’t understand the content that my child is working on or I have questions about lessons?

As a part of the DCPS schedules, teachers will have times they are available for individual questions and support. Each school will issue guidance on teacher communication and availability using newsletters, robocalls, and other platforms. If you have content-specific questions, contact your child’s teacher directly.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Communications

How will Individualized Education Plan (IEP) services be delivered during virtual learning?

Students with IEP and 504 plans will follow the same grade-level appropriate systems and structures as general education. IEP and 504 services will be delivered virtually in collaboration with teachers and parents. Teachers and parents of students with IEPs will collaborate on individualized distance learning addendums at the beginning of the school year. The addendums do not replace the IEP.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Special Education

Are DCPS teachers or staff able to offer babysitting or tutoring to DCPS students outside of virtual learning?

Although DCPS does not have a policy specifically addressing babysitting or staff tutoring of DCPS students, the general DC Government ethics rules have strict provisions regarding outside employment and conflicts of interest. Those provisions serve to prohibit staff members from tutoring or babysitting students of a school where the staff member is employed, prohibit staff members from advertising themselves as DCPS employees to make them more competitive for additional earned income, and prohibit the use of District government resources to advertise or promote any outside business activity.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)

How will feedback be provided to students through grades?

DCPS believes that grades are in the service of ongoing learning, to provide timely feedback and personalized instruction, while making a record of growth and development. Student grades will be:

  • A measure of skills and knowledge from content taught and learned;
  • Based on standards-based evidence of student learning demonstrated in foundational course assignments and assessments;
  • Accessible and available for revision and improvement throughout the term; and
  • Provided frequently and accurately.
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Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Dismissal

What mental health supports will be provided to support student emotional wellbeing and perception of safety and connection?

School Mental Health Teams are supporting students at all levels of need including families who will have all-virtual related services. Students may initiate contact with school mental health staff. This is considered a self-referral and depending on age, may require parental consent. Parents, guardians, peers, and staff may also refer a student for services. Any staff person can facilitate an introduction to a member of the Mental Health Team if families or students are unsure who to speak with about a mental health concern or inquiry about services.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Mental Health

Are you supplying computers to students in need?

Yes! DCPS will ensure that every student who needs a DCPS-issued device for virtual learning will have access to both a device and internet for School Year 2020-2021. DCPS is accomplishing this goal through a comprehensive family needs assessment process. DCPS will provide devices to students who lack access in the home.

DCPS is asking all families to report their technology access in the DCPS Technology Survey at: dcps.tech/survey. You can also complete the survey by phone by calling your school.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)

We don’t have internet access. How will my child receive lessons through the online platform?

DCPS will provide families who lack access to internet the support needed to connect through a hotspot or data-enabled device that will allow them to connect, free of charge. DCPS is asking all families to report their internet access in the DCPS Technology Survey at: dcps.tech/survey. You can also complete the survey by phone by calling your school.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)

How can I enroll my student at DCPS?

DCPS launched an electronic submission process for SY20-21 enrollment in the spring and this process continues to be available to families for SY21-22 enrollment. Enrollment packets can be found here. For SY21-22, there are no changes in requirements for families, however, alternative methods for submitting the necessary documentation electronically are available. All families will still need to complete a DCPS enrollment packet, prove DC residency, and submit all documents to their school prior to the first day of school on August 30, 2021. For more detailed information on enrollment, please see our Frequently Asked Questions. As always, we are ready and eager to support you with any enrollment questions you may have, especially if you need help with the new electronic submission process. Please do not hesitate to contact your school or the DCPS Enrollment Team at enroll@k12.dc.gov or (202) 478- 5738.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Enrollment

Will immunizations be required for SY 20-21 in person attendance?

Beginning School Year 2020-2021, immunizations will be required for in-person attendance. Ensuring your child receives the right vaccinations at the right age is one of the most important ways to help them stay healthy and keep serious diseases at a distance. When we do return to in-person instruction, students who have not received their required immunizations will have 20 school days to provide immunization certification or they will be removed from in-person attendance and transitioned to virtual learning until the necessary immunization documentation is received. Please visit the DC Health website for a detailed schedule of required immunizations and page from OSSE for more information.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Health

How can I tell if my child is on track with their immunizations?

Please contact your child’s health care provider for confirmation.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)EnrollmentHealth

Where can I take my student to get them immunized?

Please visit the Health Care Access Bureau’s website for a full list of DC pediatric immunization locations or visit DCHealthlink.com if you need access to health insurance. DCPS also has seven school-based Health Centers that are serving as immunization clinics this summer. Please use the following link to view the sites and location hours.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)Health

How will attendance be taken during the all-virtual learning at home period?

For learning at home, attendance will be recorded based on the student logging into Canvas, DCPS’ Learning Management System, each day between 6:00 am and 11:59 pm. Canvas participation will be transferred to a student’s Aspen attendance record on a daily basis. Teachers will monitor participation in live synchronous instruction as well as tracking successful engagement with online learning activities. If students need to miss a live synchronous class, they should communicate with a teacher about how to make up for missed learning.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)

Will DCPS offer athletics?

On July 16, the DC State Athletic Association announced it has postponed interscholastic athletics in the 2020-21 school year until January 21, due to the ongoing public health crisis. Subject to final approval by the Mayor and DC Health, the DCSAA will resume playing seasons in the winter, with a condensed schedule to allow for the possibility that all sports may have a playing season during the school year.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)

How will I hear more from DCPS on operating status and access more information?

You can learn more at DCPSReopenStrong.com that will include information for families and a staff page about SY20-21 or visit DC Public School’s homepage at dcps.dc.gov.

Elementary (K-5)Secondary (6-12)CommunicationsHealth