An arbitrator ruled on Saturday that most DC schools may reopen this week for in-person classes as they meet safety criteria for the practice.
The arbitrator, Elliot Shaller, came to this conclusion after evaluating claims brought by the Washington Teachers’ Union regarding DC Public Schools’ (DCPS) failure to provide required conditions for a safe reopening of schools.
DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee announced that a majority of schools in the District are cleared to open for in-person learning with the arbitrator’s decision.
In-person classes were originally slated to resume on Monday, February 1, but Mayor Muriel Bowser said there would be virtual teaching today due to snowfall.
“We were ready to reopen before the Washington Teachers’ Union made this last-minute failed attempt to delay the expansion of in-person learning,” Ferebee said. “The science is clear. Schools are safe, and we know the best place for students to learn is in the classroom.”
In addition to the safety-related allegations, the Washington Teachers’ Union asserted that DCPS violated the reopening agreement between the union and the school system.
As part of the agreement, the American Arbitration Association is authorized to settle disputes between the two sides.
Ahead of DCPS’ reopening, the District began administering COVID-19 vaccines to teachers and other in-person employees, including support staff, at public schools and public charter schools on January 26. Over 3,000 teachers and staff members have already received their first dose, according to DC Health.