The DC State Board of Education penned a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser, asking her for a fund of least $4 million dollars so that DC Public Schools (DCPS) and DC public charter schools can create safe and well-equipped outdoor learning spaces for students returning to in-person classes during the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
The Board of Education said that the amount is equivalent to the funding that has been made available to DC bars and restaurants to help them winterize their outdoor seating areas.
According to last week’s letter, in order to provide outdoor learning options, schools might need training teachers for effective outdoor instruction, warm clothing for students and educators, tents, heaters, weather-resistant furniture, storage, equipment, assistance from consultants and partnering organizations.
The Board also urged the Bowser administration “to direct the State Superintendent to reinstate and increase pre-pandemic funding for school partner organizations that take advantage of the District’s wealth of cultural sites and natural settings to engage students in experiential outdoor learning.”
The letter noted that it has been scientifically proven that being outdoor greatly mitigates the spread of the coronavirus.
The DC State Board of Education had not heard from Bowser’s office as of Tuesday.
Speaking to ABC7, Emily Gasoi, the Ward 1 Representative for the Board, said “Even if we do round that corner and we feel it’s safe to go back inside, outdoor learning has so many benefits and coming out of this period where students have been sitting in front of screens for too much time and haven’t had the opportunity to socialize with their friends, it just makes sense.”