WASHINGTON — D.C. Public Schools will be closed until April 1 to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the District, officials said Friday morning. Students will continue their education in the interim via distance learning after a spring break period that has also been moved earlier, officials announced.

Here's the letter released Friday by school Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee:

Dear DC Public Schools Community,

On March 11, 2020, in order to provide additional coordination for the District’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Mayor Muriel Bowser declared both a state of emergency and a public health emergency. During this unprecedented public health emergency, DC Public Schools (DCPS) remains committed to ensuring the well-being of our students and school communities. Therefore, starting Monday, March 16 through Tuesday, March 31, DCPS will modify operations to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our region.

In our ongoing efforts to address community health risks and ensure the continuity of learning for our students, DCPS will follow an updated schedule between March 16 and March 31:

  • Monday, March 16 — Teachers and staff will report to school to plan for distance learning. No school for students.
  • Tuesday, March 17 to Monday, March 23 — DCPS will take its Spring Break for students and teachers. There will no longer be a Spring Break period in April.
  • Tuesday, March 24 to Tuesday, March 31 — Students will participate in distance learning.
  • Wednesday, April 1 — Schools will resume operations.

During this period, there will also be no school-sponsored activities such as athletics, extracurriculars, field trips, events, or afterschool programs.

We are grateful for the patience, flexibility, and cooperation our DCPS community is demonstrating as we manage the dynamic nature of this event. As we approach the next few weeks, we ask for continued patience and trust as the District navigates this unique situation.

While this decision was made to prioritize the health and safety of our entire school community, we understand it will be disruptive to our families. With that in mind, I want to share some additional details about what distance learning will look like for our DCPS students and the supports we have in place for families over the next few weeks.

About Distance Learning

DCPS prepared instructional contingency plans that will allow meaningful, relevant learning to take place while schools are closed. We developed resources for every level in grades PK-8 and each graduation requirement course for grades 9-12. Information about how to pick up printed copies of these lessons throughout the city or access them online will be shared in the coming days.

Free Meals for Students

Due to the DCPS schedule change, meals will be available to students on weekdays from Monday, March 16 - Tuesday, March 31 from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the following sites:

DC Health Resources for Families

Many resources, including information about how to protect yourself and your family, are available on coronavirus.dc.gov. The symptoms that are currently being seen with coronavirus (COVID-19) are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you experience the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or have reason to believe you have been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19), call your healthcare provider before visiting a healthcare facility.

You can also find FAQs for students and families on coronavirus.dc.gov. During this period, we also encourage students and families to follow the DC Health recommendation to avoid large social gatherings.

With Gratitude and Thanks

We recognize the significant impact this extended closure will have on our entire community. Closing DCPS for two weeks due to a citywide health emergency mid-year is unprecedented. We acknowledge the anxiety this may cause our students, especially our seniors who are focused on graduation and those students who depend on DCPS for critical services. We also recognize the burden this will place on our staff and working families. As we learn more about what this extended closure means for the school year calendar, we will share that information with our school communities. Employee Services will also be in contact with DCPS staff about the impact of this schedule change on their work.

Thank you for your understanding and ongoing commitment to making the safety of our students, staff, and school communities a priority. Regular updates will be shared with families via email and at https://dcps.dc.gov/coronavirus and https://coronavirus.dc.gov/.

In partnership,

Lewis D. Ferebee, Ed.D.
DC Public Schools

On Wednesday, school officials said it's closing schools on Monday, March 16 to prepare for potential coronavirus impacts to the District. 

Schools officials said they are shifting a planned Professional Development Day scheduled from Friday to Monday, March 16 as one component of COVID-19 emergency preparedness planning.

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Here's the letter DCPS Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee, Ed.D. sent to their community:

Good morning DCPS Community,

D.C. Public Schools continues to prioritize student and staff safety as the region addresses the coronavirus (COVID-19). As part of DCPS’ emergency response planning, there will be a shift in school schedules for the week of March 16. This announcement affects both teachers and students.

The scheduled Professional Development Day for teachers on Friday, March 20 will now take place on Monday, March 16.

Schools will be closed for students on Monday, March 16, with classes resuming for the rest of the week. Students will no longer have the day off on Friday, March 20.

DC Health continues to report no widespread community transmission of COVID-19, and prevention remains our priority. However, this situation remains dynamic, and preparation is critical every day. With this in mind, DCPS is accelerating our planning timeline with teachers and school leaders to ensure that our educators are fully equipped to support distance learning as needed. As part of their Professional Development Day next week, teachers and school leaders will focus on academic contingency planning that best serves the entire DCPS school community.

Instructional contingency plans are underway that will allow meaningful, relevant learning to take place in the event that schools are closed for an extended period of time. We are developing resources for every level in grades PK-8 and for each graduation requirement course for grades 9-12. These resources will be available both in print and online and accessible to every family.

The shift in Professional Development Day sessions from Friday to Monday is just one component of DCPS’ COVID-19 emergency preparedness planning. Please visit https://coronavirus.dc.gov/ for the latest COVID-19 information from DC Health.

Thank you for your understanding and ongoing commitment to the safety of our students, staff, and school communities. If you have any questions, please send them to ceo.info@k12.dc.gov.

In partnership,

Lewis D. Ferebee, Ed.D.
DC Public Schools

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