Councilmember Anita Bonds: Community Update, including Back to School, Redistricting

Politics

Neighbors,

BACK TO SCHOOL

Last week, the Mayor, DC Health and DCPS provided guidance on operations and safety protocols as all District of Columbia Public School and Public Charter School students return to in-person learning, everyday beginning August 30 or earlier.

I fully support the return to in-person learning because most objective studies have shown that in-school instruction provides greater learning and retention abilities and promotes interpersonal, social and organizational skills that are critical to development and career building but like many that reached out recently, I am concerned that not enough of students and personnel will be tested daily for the virus and that implementing social distancing recommendations will prove too difficult to maintain. As such, I believe that DC Health should implement the necessary health protocols through a standard uniform testing program across all schools, both DCPS and charters rather than allowing each school to receive a grant to implement their own testing program. Additionally, I advocated for an increase in random COVID tests of up to 25% of students and faculty daily to provide a stronger snapshot of the rate of infection. Last semester, the sample testing was only 4%. For the sample testing, parents must complete and submit the consent form.

I have asked DCPS to share data on the amount and percentage of vaccination rates of DCPS employees. As of August 4, 45% (4,194) of DCPS staff have reported their vaccination status, however, a large number have not provided a response. Of those who reported, over 90% are vaccinated. I am confident that as more employees report their status, the vaccination rates will exceed the general population, especially since all DC government employees must be fully vaccinated by September 19, 2021. Moreover, with the recent Food and Drug Administration’s decision to issue a full authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine to Pfizer-BioNTech, vaccinations are expected to increase nationwide, and hopefully in the District and the metropolitan region.

For detailed information on DCPS reopening policy and guidance, see below or visit School Year 2021-2022 – DCPS Reopen Strong.

REDISTRICTING

Chairman Phil Mendelson has appointed a subcommittee to direct the Council’s redistricting work, consisting of three at-large members: Elissa Silverman, who will chair the subcommittee, Anita Bonds, and Christina Henderson. Using data from the 2020 Census, the subcommittee will make recommendations to the full Council on redrawing ward boundaries to ensure balanced ward populations and representation in the legislature. The subcommittee, along with ward-specific task forces, will also make recommendations on redrawing Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) boundaries to meet similar balancing and fair representation goals. On August 12, the US Census released unofficial results which show the District has a 14.6% increase with a total population of 689,545 residents.

The Subcommittee on Redistricting has released information and a timeline of the redistricting process, including how you can participate. If you have ideas you want to share with me, please drop an email at abonds@dccouncil.us or call me directly on 202-355-8706. Looking forward to receiving your comments.

VACCINES AND TESTING

If you have not done so, it’s not too late to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. DC has walk-up vaccination sites across the District for all residents 12 years and older to get vaccinated without having to make an appointment in advance. You can find more information about vaccination sites and promotional giveaways at vaccinate.dc.gov. If you require assistance with locating a vaccination site or getting to a site, please call Aimellia Siemson in my office immediately at 202-288-5982 or email at housing@dccouncil.us.

If you need a test or want a test from home kit, visit District of Columbia COVID-19 Testing Sites | coronavirus (dc.gov).

Remember, DC Heath has issued new guidance on where masks are required and by whom.

As always, staff and I are available to assist you, so don’t hesitate to call 202-355-8706 or email me at abonds@dccouncil.usTo reach the newsletter editor, David Meadows with comments, information, ideas, etc. send your email to dmeadows@dccouncil.us.

With much appreciation,

Anita Bonds

ANITA IN THE COMMUNITY

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Councilmember Anita Bonds has been busy spending the summer recess meeting with residents, organizations and businesses across the District of Columbia. On Saturday, August 14, she joined Ward 7 residents at the Woody Ward Recreation Center at Mayor Bowser’s Back to School Backpack Giveaway.

The event welcomed families and neighbors with informational tables, abundant food and drinks, vaccination and testing stations, games and play areas, and backpacks stuffed with essential school supplies for our students.

CONGRATULATIONS ANIYAH DOLEMAN- BONDS INTERN OFF TO COLLEGE

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Join us in congratulating Ms. Aniyah Doleman for receiving a full scholastic scholarship to The Ohio State University where she will major in Computer Science.

For the past 3 years, Aniyah has served as an invaluable paid  intern for the Office of At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds where her assignments included focusing on research and youth affairs. She served in this capacity while a full time student at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School from which she graduated with honors in 2021.

Go Buckeyes! Go Aniyah! 

WARD BOUNDARY REDISTRICTING NEWS

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Click here to access this 2020 Census Map as a PDF file. 

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COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

SUBCOMMITTEE ON REDISTRICTING

Starting September 2021, the Council of the District of Columbia will launch its once-in-a-decade redistricting process. Normally, decennial redistricting begins in April, but a five-month delay in the release of 2020 Census data has the process officially kicking off in September.

EXPECTED TIMELINE

  • August 12, 2021: Initial “legacy” Census data released (the 2020 Census data will first be released in a non-user friendly legacy format, a few weeks before the general data release. This data will be “cleaned up” by the District’s Office of Planning and will be made available through a user-friendly redistricting website in September.)
  • September 2021, date TBD: Official Census data released
  • September 2021, date TBD: Redistricting website launched, which will enable the public to use Census data to create their own recommendations on redrawing ward and ANC boundaries
  • Late September through late October 2021: Subcommittee will hold eight hearings on ward redistricting, one specific to each ward
  • Mid-November 2021: Subcommittee mark-up of the ward redistricting bill (we are technically a subcommittee of the Committee of the Whole)
  • December 7, 2021: First vote by the full Council on the ward redistricting bill
  • December 21, 2021: Second vote on the ward redistricting bill
  • December 2021: Ward Task Forces (which provide recommendations on ANC redistricting) start meeting
  • February 2022: Ward Task Forces report out recommendations
  • May 2022: Subcommittee mark-up of the ANC redistricting bill
  • June 2022: Council votes on the ANC redistricting bill

How can residents participate in the redistricting process?

There will be many opportunities for residents to participate in the redistricting process.  But there are four main ways:

  • Submit maps through the DC redistricting website. This website will allow members of the public to draw their own ward and ANC boundaries using the new Census data and submit these maps to the Council subcommittee for consideration. The public mapping tool will launch in September, at DC2021redistricting.esriemcs.com.
  • Testify before the Council’s subcommittee.  These hearings will be open to the public, so anyone can testify on redistricting. The hearings will be at different times of day and different days of the week.
  • Submit testimony to the subcommittee. The subcommittee is accepting written and oral testimony, including maps. Any testimony submitted will be included in the committee report on the redistricting legislation.  Any written testimony will also be distributed to the subcommittee members before each hearing.  Written testimony can be emailed to redistricting@dccouncil.us.  The subcommittee is setting up a voicemail box for residents to also submit oral testimony in the near future.
  • Contact your councilmember.  Every member will have a vote on the new lines, and will be actively participating in the redistricting process.  You can find your councilmember’s contact information here.

Information provided by the Subcommittee on Redistricting.

COMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND EXECUTIVE ADMINISTRATION

The Council of the District of Columbia Committee on Housing and Executive Administration is now on Twitter and YouTube to keep you informed of important committee business.

Please follow us at twitter.com/COHEA_DC.

You may view the committee’s hearings, roundtables, and sessions at our COHEA YouTube page.

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BACK TO SCHOOL

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DC Public Schools will fully reopen with in-person learning for all students, every day in the fall for the 2021-2022 School Year! The first day of school for students is August 30 and enrollment is now open at enrolldcps.dc.gov.

In the fall, all DCPS teachers will be back in schools teaching in their classrooms. Our schools will continue to implement a system of layered protections to ensure we are able to safely offer in-person programming and all our district’s facility space will be fully maximized.

DCPS is focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19 with universal masking, physical distancing, enhanced air filtration and cleaning, and a robust campaign for our community to get the COVID-19 vaccine alongside a vaccination requirement for staff. We are screening for COVID-19 symptoms with daily health assessments for students and staff, and we will have regular asymptomatic testing for students. We are also keeping our families informed if there is a COVID-19 case within their school.

Universal masking 

  • All students, staff and visitors will be required to always wear a face mask on school grounds.
  • Consistent with DC Health’s latest guidance that encourages masks when outside in crowded areas, we will continue to require masks outside during recess, during before and after school care, and for other school day activities.
  • Masks can be removed for eating, drinking, and during nap time for PreK students.
  • If anyone does not have a mask, one will be provided upon entry to the school.

Enhanced air filtration

  • DCPS invested more than $24 million in HVAC enhancements to protect everyone in a school building from airborne diseases like COVID-19. These enhancements make sure more fresh air is brought into school buildings, that the air is well ventilated and filtered, and that it’s disinfected.
  • Every classroom has a small filtration unit with a medical-grade HEPA filter to clean the air within that space.

Required immunizations and the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Students must be in compliance with routine immunization requirements by their 20th school day, or they will be prohibited from attending until compliant. To see a list of required immunizations, visit dchealth.dc.gov/immunizations.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is currently not required for students, but we highly encourage all eligible students and community members to get vaccinated as this is the best way to stop the spread of the virus.
  • Staff are required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination by September 19 or take a weekly COVID-19 test.
  • DCPS will not be able to disclose the vaccination status of individual staff or students.

Physical distancing and student interaction 

  • Desks will be physically distanced to the greatest extent possible within classrooms.
  • To the extent feasible, 6 feet of spacing will be maintained between adults and students.
  • Student cohort interactions will be limited to the extent feasible, particularly at the elementary school level, but there is no cap for student or staff cohort interactions in any grade.
  • Schools are encouraged to utilize outside learning spaces where possible.

Lunchtime guidance

  • Students in Pre-K and Kindergarten will eat lunch in their classrooms. Students in grades 1st – 12th may eat in the school cafeteria.
  • Masks may be removed only while students are actively eating or drinking.
  • Cafeterias will be set up to allow the greatest amount of distance between students, and student seating will be assigned.
  • All schools received two large HEPA filters designed to support large spaces. One of these large HEPA filters will be placed in the cafeteria of each school. The HEPA filter placement will provide local filtration and complete air exchanges in the cafeteria.
  • Where possible, schools are encouraged to utilize outside eating areas or alternative locations in the building to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at one time.

Daily health screenings

  • Each day before going to school, families should complete the “Ask. Ask. Look.” checklist for their student(s).
  • Upon entry, staff will confirm that students have completed the “Ask. Ask. Look.” checklist and conduct a visual COVID screening.

Visitor guidance 

  • We will continue to limit visitors to our schools. All visitors must be pre-approved, confirm completion of a health assessment, and always wear a mask on school grounds.

Student arrival and dismissal

  • Families are not allowed to enter the building for student drop-off and pick up, except for students with a parent/guardian escort as a component of a written safety plan.

Notifications about COVID-19 cases within your school

  • Families will receive a notification if someone tests positive for COVID-19 within their student’s classroom and within their school.
  • Due to medical privacy concerns, families will not be informed which individual(s) tested positive.

Close contact and quarantine guidance

  • If an unvaccinated student or staff member is a close contact to someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to quarantine for at least 7 days. Students or staff may return to the classroom after 7 days if they take a COVID-19 test on or after day 5 and receive a negative result. Unvaccinated students or staff who do not take a test must quarantine for 10 days.
  • Vaccinated students and staff who are in close contact to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine if they are not showing symptoms but are recommended to take a test between 3 and 5 days after they are exposed.
  • Based on the updated guidance from DC Health, a student in a school setting is considered a close contact if they are within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes within a 24-hour window within 2 days prior to illness onset or positive test result. Per CDC and DC Health guidance, students in a school setting who are within 3 to 6 feet of another student for longer than 15 minutes are not considered a close contact if both students are consistently wearing well-fitting masks or other mitigating factors are in place (for example, physical distancing, increased ventilation, etc.).
  • If there is a positive COVID-19 case within your school, contact tracers will determine who is a close contact.
  • To help determine who is a close contact, assigned seating will be utilized in classrooms where students are seated within 3 feet of each other.
  • Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should not attend school and should isolate for at least 10 days and show improvement of symptoms, including no fever for 24 hours.

Quarantine and classroom instruction

  • If a teacher is unable to provide in-person instruction, DCPS will first employ substitutes to continue in-person learning for the class.
  • Students who are required to quarantine will be provided with a DCPS device for learning at home. Course content will be available via canvas for students learning at home. Instruction may be fully virtual, a mix of simultaneous in-person and virtual instruction, or self-guided, depending upon the number of students quarantining and the availability of the teacher. Families will be informed about when and how virtual instruction will be provided.

Quarantine attendance policy 

  • Students should stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms, are a close contact of a positive case, or as recommended based on the travel guidance.
  • For students who are required to quarantine but not at the direction of DCPS (e.g., because a family member tested positive for COVID-19 and they were contacted by a contact tracer), the parent/guardian must provide written documentation of the quarantine. The written note must include the date of COVID-19 exposure; the length of time the student has been directed to quarantine by a medical professional or contact tracer; and the name, organization, and contact information of the medical professional or contract tracer.
  • Please note, students required to quarantine at the direction of DCPS (e.g., because a teacher tested positive for COVID-19) do not need to provide documentation.

Travel Guidance 

  • Unvaccinated individuals who travel outside of the DC-Maryland-Virginia area are recommended to self-quarantine upon return. Three to five days after returning, individuals should get a COVID-19 test. If the test is negative, the self-quarantine can end after the seventh day. If no test is performed, unvaccinated individuals should self-quarantine for 10 days.
  • We will continue to evaluate COVID-19 case levels and vaccination rates and determine whether DCPS will modify operations around the Thanksgiving and Winter holidays. We will provide an update in October on these considerations.

Asymptomatic testing 

  • For surveillance testing, 10 percent of students will be randomly tested each week for COVID-19, with written consent. Students must have a signed consent form on file to participate in the asymptomatic testing program.
  • Please click here to complete a consent form for your student! Schools will provide families with instructions on how to return the testing consent form.
  • We ask you to help make this measure as strong as possible by submitting a COVID-19 testing consent form.

Devices for students 

  • All students in grades 3 and up will be issued their own technology device. For students in Kindergarten through 2nd grade, there will be a 3 to 1 ratio of students to devices.
  • Students who need to quarantine will be provided with a device by their school.

Enhanced cleaning

  • Schools will continue to implement enhanced cleaning procedures with CDC and EPA-approved supplies.
  • Deep cleaning will continue to occur during scheduled school breaks and as needed, per DC Health guidance, related to any COVID-19 exposure.

Sports and extracurricular activities

  • Mask guidance for sports and extracurricular activities are addressed in DC Health’s tiered guidance based on the level of risk for that sport or activity such as cheerleading or band.

provided by DCPS

VACCINATION INFORMATION

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Walk-Up Site

Address

Normal Days / Hours

Vaccine

Ida B Wells Middle School (Safeway) 405 Sheridan Street, NW
Wednesday – Saturday, 9 am-1 pm, 2 pm-7 pm

Last day: August 21, 2021

Pfizer (Ages 12+)

Anacostia High School (Safeway) * $51 gift card & giveaway site 1601 16th Street, SE
Tuesday-Thursday: 11 am-7pm
Saturday: 12pm-5pm
Last day: September 30, 2021.
Pfizer (Ages 12+)
Dorothy Height/Benning Library *$51 gift card & giveaway site 3935 Benning Road, NE

Tuesday and Wednesday: 10 am – 6 pm
Thursday: 12 pm – 6 pm
Saturday: 12 pm – 5 pm

Last day: August 21, 2021

Pfizer (Ages 12+)
Johnson & Johnson (Ages 18+)

Find other opportunities to get vaccinated today, including at pharmacies and clinics across all eight wards, at vaccines.gov

Can’t leave your home? Call 1-855-363-0333 and we’ll come to you!

For any questions regarding the vaccine program, please email vaccinatedc@dc.gov.

Don’t Wait. Vaccinate!

Check the status of the wait times at the walk-up sites at coronavirus.dc.gov/dontwait.

GET TESTED

TEST

CLICK HERE FOR WALK UP TESTING SITES AND TAKE HOME TEST 

SNAP BENFITS TO INCREASE

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NEW WEBSITE AND PORTAL FOR UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

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The DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) Office of Unemployment Compensation has a new website and portal. For more information, visit unemployment.dc.gov.

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