Guiding Principles for Continuous Education and Supporting Plans
To help District LEAs meet the challenge of preparing for a return to in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year, OSSE updated and realigned the existing Guiding Principles to three recovery priorities for 2021: Safe Reopening, Student and Staff Well-Being and Accelerated Learning. These guiding principles gave LEAs and families clear and consistent expectations for serving students in person five days a week and offering distance learning under limited circumstances. LEAs developed effective, equitable continuous education plans (CEPs) to support all students using these guiding principles. LEAs also developed comprehensive health and safety plans to support the safe reopening and operation of buildings. To support plan creation and implementation, OSSE provided LEAs with 14 different training sessions and partnered with TNTP, a national nonprofit founded by teachers that helps school systems address educational inequality, to offer consultative services. Once LEAs submitted their plans in June 2021, OSSE teams got to work – completing a comprehensive review of 70 CEPs and 101 health and safety plans. If gaps were discovered or if plans lacked clarity, OSSE worked directly with LEAs to ensure all LEAs had clear, actionable and compliant plans in place before the start of the school year.
Recognizing Excellence in Service
In May, DEL’s Licensing and Compliance Team was honored with the Excellence in Service Award during Mayor Bowser’s Employee Appreciation Ceremony. The team remained determined and focused on serving children and families throughout the pandemic, working closely with DC’s early care and education community throughout the pandemic and adapting its own processes and procedures to ensure the District’s nearly 500 child care providers could continue to serve families safely. Throughout the year, DEL licensing specialists conducted 818 licensing inspections virtually and in-person and provided approximately 1 million pieces of personal protective equipment to providers.
Driving Toward Restoration
From the onset of the pandemic, OSSE DOT has continued to provide a high level of service to DC students, families and partner agencies equipped with more than 144 new buses in its fleet, OSSE DOT helped ensure students with disabilities were able to begin the 2021-22 school year safely. After ridership dipped to an average of 142 students a month during the first five months of the 2020-21 school year—when most students were participating in distance learning—average monthly ridership rebounded to 3,354 students during the same period in 2021. OSSE DOT also delivered ongoing support to partner agencies throughout the year, providing critical services during the health emergency, including volunteering to support vaccinations for educators and staff, and providing resources to assist with leaf removal and the District’s cold weather initiative.