We are one step closer to all D.C. school reopening as charters

Yesterday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser released the names of those who would serve on the ReOpen DC Advisory Group that is being chaired by former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. There are six co-chairpersons under them that will lead eleven Advisory Group Subcommittees. The one for Education and Childcare is getting a lot of notice.

The government co-chairman of this group is Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn. He will share his duties with community co-chairman Charlene Drew Jarvis and associate committee director Rich Harrington, the associate director Mayor’s Office of Policy at DC Government. The mission of the body is as follows:

“The Committee will work across sectors to recommend strategies to close the digital divide, improve distance learning strategies, re-imagine physical learning environments, evaluate phased entry for summer learning and next school year, as well as new tools or resources needed for reopening all aspects of education in Washington, DC.”

In other words it has a say over every aspect of public education in the nation’s capital.

Most exciting is who is a part of this group and who has been left off. There are eighteen members. Of those, seven are either leaders in our local charter movement or have been tremendous supporters. These include Katherine Bradley, co-founder of CityBridge; Patricia Brantley, CEO Friendship PCS; Ricarda Ganjam, member of the DCPCSB; Sonia Gutierrez, founder of the Carlos Rosario International PCS; LaTonya Henderson, executive director of Cedar Tree Academy PCS; and Victor Reinoso, Deputy Mayor of Education under Mayor Fenty. I could also count Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, as she has worked closely with many of our charter schools.

Not named with these individuals is Elizabeth Davis, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union. Today, the Washington City Paper’s Amanda Michelle Gomez has an article detailing Ms. Davis’ displeasure of being dissed from the list, as apparently she directly asked Ms. Bowser to be a participant.

“It’s a recipe for disaster,” Ms. Gomez quotes Ms. Davis as remarking about the omission.

I called recently for all D.C. schools to become charters once they are permitted to reopen in the image of what happened in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. In the piece I wrote, “In order for these facilities to be as flexible as possible, union membership by all teachers would be suspended indefinitely.” Not having the head of the local teachers’ union as part of the ReOpen DC Advisory Group is a fantastic first step in this direction.

The City Paper reporter also notes that there are no teachers and principals as part of the new organization.

It is possible for some very good things to come out of tragedy. We have the opportunity to do something great here. I have pointed out the terrible societal cost of our stubborn 60-point academic achievement gap. Now for the health and safety of all of those living in the District, let’s take this moment to hammer it closed once and for all.

High COVID-19 death rate in D.C.’s Wards 5, 7 and 8 was predictable, just look at academic achievement gap

Fully eighty percent of those who have passed away from the Coronavirus in the District of Columbia are black. Almost all of these cases involve individuals who live in Wards 5, 7, and 8, the poorest areas of the city.

The news has been flooded with stories explaining that those with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to passing away from the disease. Medical experts and social scientists have also known for years that when people live in poverty their environment is characterized by negative social determinants of health that lead to the chronic illnesses that are now contributing to the demise of these individuals. Adverse Childhood Events also plague this population, and having a high number of ACE’s has been shown to be a precursor to the development of serious maladies.

It is all one horrific circle, one that starts from the time kids come onto this Earth. Perhaps the first real indicator of the problem is the three-year-old boys and girls that come into our schools already academically behind. The gap in knowledge between white students and minority pupils in the nation’s capital is 60 points. It is perhaps the largest in the country, and is a span that despite twenty-five years of public education reform has not budged.

I have written time and time again about our need to take this achievement gap deadly seriously. Until we ensure that all students receive a quality education, we will never break the cycle that is now taking away the future from our neighbors. We must ensure that those brave souls who create schools serving the most at-risk students have the financial support and other resources that can reverse the situation for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

There are numerous charter schools that have taken on this challenge. But there are so many obstacles in their way that it is a miracle that their visionary leaders don’t run the other way. Some of these blockades are put in place by our city leadership in the form of the inequitable funding that charters receive compared to the traditional schools. Another challenge is the severe lack of permanent facilities that our Mayor will not talk about while ignoring a chorus of pleas to turn over vacant DCPS buildings. Our own charter board contributes to the issue through bureaucratic oversight of existing schools and those groups that want to create new classrooms.

Until we are serious about closing the academic achievement gap we will never eliminate the health gap that we are experiencing for all to see today. There are no words to describe the horror of the current situation.

However, I’m an eternal optimist so I believe something good can come out of this tragedy. Someone out there could decide that enough is enough. One person can still change the world.

Last Friday Mayor Bowser announced D.C. schools would close May 29; charters say not so fast

On Friday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser revealed that DCPS would continue instructing students utilizing distance learning until May 29th and would then close for the school year three weeks ahead of schedule. In her remarks she stated that charter schools would shutter on or around the same date.

Recall that on Friday, March 13th, Ms. Bowser closed DCPS beginning the following Monday, stating that it would reopen on April 1st. The Mayor said that she expected charters to follow suit, which they did. All schools then quickly adopted distance learning plans for their students. On March 20th she delayed the opening until April 27th. April 6th she held a teleconference with education leaders in which she stated that the April 27th date would not be met and that schools are closed indefinitely. Finally, at the end of last week, she proclaimed that the 2019-to-2020 term would end on May 29th instead of June 19.

Ms. Bowser did raise the possibility that schools could reopen early in the fall in order to make up for lost instructional time.

My immediate reaction was that the Mayor does not have the power to dictate to charters their last day of school. Apparently, the executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board Scott Pearson agreed. In a tweet immediately following Ms. Bowser’s remarks he wrote, “This is inaccurate. Public charter schools each have their own closure schedules. Many are choosing to serve students well into June.” The message was sent directly to @MayorBowser.

So ended coordination between the traditional schools and charters during the most significant public health crisis we have seen in our lifetimes.

Of course, the Mayor has authority over charter schools when it comes to the health and safety of its students. That is why when she required schools to stop having students learn in classrooms on March 16, charters fell in line. However, now that pupils are being taught remotely, there is no safety consideration governing a closing date. Two charters that serve some of our city’s most at-risk students, Kingsman Academy PCS and KIPP DC PCS, reacted to the Mayor’s news by announcing that they would stay upon until June 12th. Community College Preparatory Academy PCS will end its year on June 30th as planned. Other schools have not yet committed to their final day of instruction. You can see the list here.

To the schools that have decided to stay open beyond May 29th and for the immediate rebuttal by Mr. Pearson, I can say that I have never been so proud of our local movement. This clear demonstration of student-centered autonomy is why charters were established in the first place.

I sincerely hope that other schools follow the needs of parents and scholars by independently determining when school is over for the year, whether that is May 29th, June 19th, or another date of their choosing.

We are not living in an Edward Hopper world

Picking up today’s Arts and Style section of the Sunday Washington Post, I read an article by Sebastian Smee entitled “These Scenes Remind Us the Good Times Will Return,” in which he states that “over the past few weeks, I’ve heard people repeatedly declare that they feel like figures in an Edward Hopper painting.” The notion that we are now playing a part in the scenes of this artist was also the subject of a March piece by Jonathan Jones in The Guardian with the headline “‘We are all Edward Hopper paintings now’: is he the artist of the coronavirus age?” Those who know of my love of Edward Hopper’s portrayals have also repeated the same theme to me since we have been reduced to staying at home and social distancing.

The only problem is that I’m not in agreement with this line of reasoning.

I first became aware of Edward Hopper over twenty-five years ago when my family first began our annual summer vacations to Cape Cod. In order to be able to reach our rental home on the Cape early in the day on a Saturday we would drive from Reston, Virginia to Boston on the previous Thursday and spend a couple of days exploring the city. One of our first stops would always include exploring the Museum of Fine Arts.

On one such occasion, when my wife and two young girls were following the map to the Impressionist wing, we passed Edward Hopper’s “Drug Store.”

I studied the piece of art not knowing anything about the man whose signature appeared on the bottom corner. This began for me an interest in this painter that has led me to see other examples of his craft across the United States and Europe.

My feelings about the subjects of Edward Hopper paintings do not fit in the alienation camp of thought. I have never believed that he was trying to depict isolation or loneliness. In fact, I think he was after something much more important.

To me, Mr. Hopper was trying to initiate a state of mind described by the writer Robert Pirsig in his most well-known book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” I was assigned to read this work by an English professor when I was a college freshman at the George Washington University.

In Zen, Mr. Persig goes on a physical and theoretical journey trying to understand the definition of the term quality. He actually develops a mental illness during this period in which he is involuntarily committed to a mental hospital and receives electroshock therapy. But he does solve his riddle.

Mr. Persig maintained that true quality was the summation of two parts. He characterized these components as romantic quality and the classic quality. An example will assist in understanding his point. A house can have aesthetics that greatly appeal to the eye, which exemplifies romantic quality, but can be made with inferior materials, which represent the classic quality. Mr. Persig would argue that the house did not have true quality because the classic quality ingredient was missing. Mr. Persig’s comprehension of quality can be applied to almost anything around us.

Essential to the author’s understanding of quality was an ability to perceive the romantic and classic elements that need to be included in the design of a quality product. He believed that the only way to grasp the recipe for quality was to first develop a peace of mind. Here’s the key paragraph from Zen on this subject:

“The reason for this is that peace of mind is a prerequisite for a perception of that Quality which is beyond romantic Quality and classic Quality and which unites the two, and which must accompany the work as it proceeds. The way to see what looks good and understand the reasons it looks good, and to be at one with this goodness as the work proceeds, is to cultivate an inner quietness, a peace of mind so that the goodness can shine through” (Pirsig 288). 

This is where Edward Hopper comes in. But to understand how, we need to take a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago. This museum possesses perhaps the artist’s most famous painting: “Nighthawks.”

I have worked in the field of radiology administration for over 30 years. Each fall there is a major radiology convention in Chicago right after Thanksgiving, and when I attend I always make it a point to go to the Art Institute. In the room adjacent to where Nighthawks is displayed there is a bench. I love to sit on this bench and watch the reaction to Nighthawks as people pass by. Almost uniformly visitors take a quick look and begin to walk away. They then almost immediately turn around as their attention is pulled back to the canvas. Individuals will focus on the picture trying to understand the scene. Their mental process will take them to thinking about the characters before them. “Why are these people there when it appears to be in the middle of the night?”, they may ask themselves. Or they may wonder about the relationship between the man and woman who are sitting together.

Viewers then naturally begin to reflect upon their own lives. In other words, they are beginning the act of contemplation that is the first step to achieving a peace of mind.

It is this peace of mind that can lead to an idea to build a new company or service. Skyscrapers and life saving inventions originate when there are opportunities to consider what is possible in the future. Nonprofits that benefit the less fortunate spring from the kindness and creativity of mankind.

There are certainly artists that have painted with more skill than Edward Hopper. Others create much more beautiful pieces of art. But the manner in which Mr. Hopper utilized color, light, and shadows, together with illustrations that leave us emotionally slightly uneasy, combine to drive us to try to understand the nature of the world and our place in it.

The powerful significance of Mr. Hopper’s work is that it helps us develop a peace of mind while exploring the philosophical area of metaphysics. Ideas to consider while we cannot leave the house.

Mark Lerner is a member of the board of trustees of the Edward Hopper Museum and Study Center in Nyack, N.Y.

D.C. charter school student wait list drops; appears to be first time in sector history

The Performance Management Tier 1 charter schools with the greatest backlog of over 1,000 students include Latin American Montessori Bilingual PCS, Washington Latin Middle PCS, Elsie Whitlow Stokes PCS Brookland Campus, DC Bilingual PCS, District of Columbia International PCS, Munde Verde PCS J.F. Cook Campus, Two Rivers PCS 4th Street Campus, Washington Yu Ying PCS, and Basis PCS.

This week the DC Public Charter School Board released its wait list data for the next school year based upon the My DC Lottery results and for the first time in the history of the local movement the number has decreased from the previous term. The number on the list is 10,771 individual names attempting to get into one or more schools. This compares to 11,317 students waitlisted last year for a decrease of 5.1 percent.

The number is still exceedingly high but it it exceptionally interesting that we have seen a drop. The reason for the decline is easy to understand.

Parents have given up trying to get their children into many of these schools.

We don’t know at this point what will happen with school next term. In an article in today’s Washington Post by Perry Stein and Donna St. George the reporters say the KIPP DC PCS is looking at various possibilities:

“Adam Rupe, spokesman for KIPP DC, the city’s largest charter network, with seven campuses, said the network is exploring multiple options, including having prolonged summer school or a longer academic year in 2020-2021.

If officials allow schools to bring limited numbers of students into buildings, Rupe said, Kipp has discussed giving students with special education needs or students in transition grades, including sixth and ninth grade, extra instruction time. The network has explored what it would look like if some students reported to school on certain days, to ensure schools do not create a health hazard by having too many people in buildings.”

I feel terrible for what parents are going through right now. Adding to their stress is where their children will go to school. And when.

D.C. charter board puts school accountability on hiatus

The DC Public Charter School Board had already announced that there would be no School Quality Reports issued for the 2019-to-2020 school year due to the impact of COVID-19. Next Monday evening the board will hold a public hearing regarding its amended policy dealing with the crisis which will then be voted on in May.

In summary, the document states that the Performance Management Framework will not be calculated for schools this term. The board really had no choice regarding this decision. The D.C. Deputy Mayor of Education has stated that he will seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to permit the city to skip conducting the PARCC standardized assessment this year. Much of the School Quality Report findings are based upon student PARCC scores. But this raises an interesting quandary. Many schools that have faced high stakes reviews were required to meet certain PMF scores going forward or face possible charter revocation. Here’s what the revised policy says on this subject:

“DC PCSB will not monitor SY 2019-20 conditions. Instead, SY 2019-20
conditions will be applied to SY 2020-21. In addition, to address unforeseen
long-term consequences of the current situation, the following discretionary clause will be included for SY 2020-21 and SY 2021-22: ‘The DC PCSB Board may, at its discretion, determine that this condition should be waived in SY 2020-21 and SY 2021-22.’ If the condition(s) originally ended in SY 2019-20 or SY 2020-21, the condition(s) will not be extended for an additional year beyond SY 2020-21.”

I recognize that these are the most unusual circumstances that many of us have seen in our lifetimes, but the proposed rules raise some interesting questions. For example, if it was so important that schools attain a particular academic level but now there is no measurement, what are the implications for the quality of the education students at these campuses are now obtaining? Moreover, if it is possible that conditions will waived until the 2021-to-2022 term, then are kids being harmed by lowering our standards?

The answer is that in all likelihood there will be little or no impact on our children. The great majority of charters, even those facing stringent requirements to meet PMF targets, are doing an excellent job educating their pupils.

Every situation is an opportunity to learn new things and gain a fresh perspective. I guarantee from what I have read on social media that organizations are discovering aspects of distance learning that they had never thought about. The same is true about the PCSB’s high stakes review procedure.

Perhaps the next time that a charter comes up for its five, ten, fifteen, or twenty-year review and it is not meeting its academic goals, the response from the board can be more lenient. For instance, instead of demanding that a school meet a target in twelve months, the time period could be two years. Or perhaps the quantity of improvement expected could be more gradual.

I do not think anyone has argued for quality in public education more than me. But simultaneously, we know that closing schools is causing significant disruptions for families. The moral question has to be asked, especially regarding our facilities that enroll extremely high proportions of at-risk students, as to whether the punishment is worse than allowing the status quo to continue.

There are also implications for the rules around charter school replication. Maybe schools should be allowed to grow even if they have not reached Tier 1 status.

I am confident that these questions have always been on the minds of charter board members. But now there is another angle to consider. Hopefully, something good will come out of this tragedy.

Meanwhile, yesterday Mayor Boswer announced that D.C. schools will be closed at least through May 15th.

When D.C. public schools reopen they should all be charters

City leaders and educators are already beginning to imagine what public education will look like when schools are once again allowed to teach students in the classroom. Today, the Washington Post has a long article by Laura Meckler, Valerie Strauss, and Joe Heim talking about the challenges school systems are anticipated to have bringing its pupils up to their academic grade level. Once solution that was provided by Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and referenced by the Post reporters, is to keep low performing Title 1 children, those from low-income households, at their current grade until individualized lesson plans can be developed for each child. Mr. Petrilli wrote:

“So when schools reopen in the fall, these students should remain in their current grade and, ideally, return to the familiarity of their current teacher. (Other types of schools — including affluent schools, middle schools and high schools — may also want to consider a similar approach.) The first order of business will be to attend to the social, emotional and mental health needs of their children and to reestablish supportive and comforting routines.

Then teachers should develop individualized plans to fill in the gaps in kids’ knowledge and skills and accelerate their progress to grade level. The use of high-quality diagnostic tests will be critical in assessing how much ground has been lost in reading and math. Students who are assessed as ready for the next grade level can move onward.

The next step would be for teachers to develop plans for each pupil to make progress, aimed at getting them to grade level by June. The plans should involve as much small-group instruction as possible, with kids clustered according to their current reading or math levels, plus some online learning opportunities in case schools are closed again. Those who are furthest behind could get regular one-on-one tutoring from specialists. This would be different from just ‘repeating the grade,’ which, research shows, rarely helps students catch up.”

I agree with the Fordham Institute president that restarting schools will bring a need to tailor learning, as the excellent teachers I have met like to say, “to meet the students where they are.” But how can we get this done for the 47 percent of the 93,708 students that are identified as at-risk in the nation’s capital?

The answer is surprising simple. We need to open all schools, including those of DCPS, as charters. Charter schools in the District of Columbia have spent more than 25 years learning how to adapt their curriculum to the needs of the specific students enrolled in their buildings. We need to free the leaders of each campus to adapt as quickly as possible to the plethora of needs of those they are about to serve once again.

Now don’t get me wrong. This conversion to one hundred percent charters is a tremendous undertaking. But it is monumentally exciting at the same time. I imagine the DC Public Charter School Board, with the assistance of OSSE, the Deputy Mayor for Education, DCPS, and the State Board of Education, all rolling up their collective sleeves to create the new paradigm. In order for these facilities to be as flexible as possible, union membership by all teachers would be suspended indefinitely.

Think of the freedom that this change would bring to the principals of our traditional schools. They would form a natural partnership with the 62 sites that are already part of the charter sector. Consider the support that groups like Education Forward DC, CityBridge Education, the Center for Education Reform, FOCUS, the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools, Education Board Partners, the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, and the Flamboyan Foundation could provide to this effort. This is a ton of expertise.

After the Katrina hurricane disaster in New Orleans, that city’s schools reopened as charters. The result, as documented by a Tulane University research group, has been increased high school graduation rates, higher college participation, and standardized test scores that have gone up by “eight to fifteen percentage points.” These improvements include students from low-income families. In the aftermath of another catastrophic tragedy, a similar bold move is needed regarding education reform.

This coming Friday Mayor Bowser is expected to make another announcement regarding the city’s public schools. I anticipate that she will keep them closed for the remainder of the academic year. Wouldn’t it be great if she also announced that in the fall all schools would reopen as charters?

DC Education Equity Fund distributes grants; we can do better, much better

The DC Education Equity Fund, the nonprofit organization supporting schools’ ability to provide distance learning to at-risk children, announced its awards on April 7th of $1.04 million to public schools in the nation’s capital. They were made according to the following guidelines:

  • “Ensure their students’ basic needs are being met so they are ready to learn;
  • Provide their students with internet and device access; and
  • Establish supports and additional learning resources for their students to have a successful transition when school buildings reopen.”

The methodology for the distributing of grants was explained this way:

“Grant amounts were split proportionally, based on overall enrollment, between DCPS and DC public charter schools, and then allocations to public charter school operators were determined based on enrollment of students designated as at-risk, as well as enrollment of adult students. The total amount awarded to each school operator can be found below. We are grateful to our school partners for everything they are doing to support their students and families during this crisis.”

The Fund then lists the awardees and the amount of the money provided. The quantity of contributions received by each charter school is frankly extremely disappointing. As a community, we desperately need to come to the aid of these institutions at this crucial moment. I urge you to give what you can to this cause this morning. You can contribute here.  

I have had the opportunity to tutor a couple of students remotely over the last two weeks. The experience was highly frustrating. These were kids that clearly were not on grade-level academically. It was exceptionally difficult to reach these children with my words and that was made much more challenging by not being able to sit next to them. I feel deeply for the teachers that now have to practice distance learning on a daily basis. I am confident that as professionals these instructors are doing the very best that they can, especially with little or no opportunity to prepare lesson plans. It is our charge to support these heroes.

Let’s not let our scholars down.

D.C. charter board reacts to impact on its schools from the coronavirus

Scott Pearson, Executive Director of the Public Charter School Board, pens a piece about the critical role authorizers have in responding to COVID-19.

This is a critical time for authorizers. How we respond to COVID-19 will make a difference to the lives of the children our schools serve. It could also help shape the future of charter schools. Much will change on the other side of this pandemic. When policymakers and the public look back at how we responded, will they see public charter schools as part of the solution, or contributing to the problem? The charter model earned a huge boost due to its effective response to Hurricane Katrina. Now we face a different crisis and again we need to step up and show that the charter school model can be uniquely effective in response.

At the DC Public Charter School Board, I’ve laid out six broad priorities for our team.

  1. Collaborate with government partners to organize an effective response. This is not the time to stay in our corner, or to bray about our autonomies. This is the time to work together, to pitch in, and to contribute to solutions. For example, we worked together with our state department of education to allow public charter schools to be citywide food distribution centers. Now 25 public charter and 25 DC public schools are serving as meal sites – all serving all students and open to whoever lives closest.
  2. Facilitate learning and experience sharing. A key strength of public charter schools is their ability to innovate. The rate of learning and problem-solving going on now is astounding. We can help schools improve faster by learning from each other. And we can make charter-district collaboration real. We’re hosting three webinars every day for our schools focused not only on overall approaches, but on specific issues, like delivering related services, or college counseling, or parent perspectives. We’ve established a shared library where we post plans, ideas, and exemplars for all schools to see. And we’ve teamed with our charter association to launch a Slack platform with dozens of channels so that collaboration can happen at every job level across our schools.
  3. Conduct appropriate oversight of distance learning. Right away we told schools that we expected them to do their best to keep learning going, and to reach all students. We aren’t being punitive about this, and we recognize some schools will struggle. But every school we oversee must make a good faith effort to reach all students.
  4. Adjust our accountability standards. We have high standards. But every aspect of accountability needs to be rethought for 2019-20, and possibly for 2020-21. We are convening listening sessions with schools and promised them clarity on accountability by late April.
  5. Communicate three things. Our communications function is dedicated to a) sharing out essential information, b) elevating the heroic stories coming out of our schools every day, and c) facilitating experience sharing between schools.
  6. Enable our agency to function effectively. Over the years we’ve invested in moving our data to the cloud. Now our IT function is on overdrive, ensuring that every staff member has the tools they need to be effective while working from home.

These are times like no other. Effective authorizing can ensure that the charter sector rises to the occasion and that the diversity of our schools is recognized as an advantage in this crisis.

Mayor Bowser closes D.C. public schools indefinitely

This evening on a conference call with city educators, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that public schools will not reopen as planned on April 27th. The Mayor justified her announcement by explaining that in an effort to protect the safety of its citizens a decision to allow students to go back to class cannot come until the number of coronavirus cases in the District of Columbia begin to go down. Ms. Bowser has predicted that the peak in infections here will not be reached until the middle of the summer.

As of Today there were 1,097 confirmed people infected with the COVID-19 with 24 deaths.

The conversation included Deputy Mayor of Education Paul Kihn, State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang, DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee, DC Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson, and Director of the District of Columbia Department of Health Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt.

Ms. Bowser began by thanking all of the educators who have rapidly implemented plans to teach their students through distance learning. She also complimented schools for providing free meals to their children. Finally, the Mayor took note of the private DC Education Equity Fund that is raising money to provide students with computers and internet access.

After concluding her remarks, the Mayor accepted questions from participants. The first inquiry came from Susan Schaeffler, the founder and chief executive officer of KIPP DC PCS. She wondered whether the Mayor couldn’t offer an anchor date of two weeks or more from now for setting some expectations around when school might once again be accepting pupils onsite. Ms. Bowser said that this was not possible at this time. But she did point out that if an anchor date is needed she stated that she has gone to the D.C. Council to ask for an extension of the District’s public health emergency for another 45 days. She added that if conditions improved during this period it is possible a different option could be taken regarding the schools.

In response to another person on the line asking about the impact of the coronavirus on the school budget for the rest of this year and next, Mayor Bowser responded that she did not know. She did mention that the downturn in the economy has decreased revenue to the city by over $600 million.

On Friday, March 13th, Ms. Bowser shuttered DCPS beginning the following Monday, stating that they would reopen on April 1st. She said that she expected charters to follow suit, which they have done. Then on March 20th she delayed the start to April 27th. Today’s remarks now decrease the probability that the schools will reopen this term.