While the Council is technically on recess until October 1st, my team and I have certainly been keeping busy serving the residents. Earlier this month, the Council unanimously passed the fiscal year 2022 budget, many highlights are included below. This month I’ve also been visiting various school campuses and immunization clinics prior to our return to in-person learning. School leaders and teachers are eager to welcome our students back to school, and I know many students are just as eager to see their teachers, coaches, and peers.
The excitement of back to school also comes with reservations for some families—which is entirely understandable. DC Public Schools have announced updated guidance for students, staff, and school communities regarding COVID-19 protocols and vaccinations. You can view all the updated information here and highlights in the newsletter below. Families can also access the COVID-19 testing consent form here.
Redistricting is also upon us! During the Council’s summer recess period, we cannot introduce or hold hearings on legislation; however, the Subcommittee on Redistricting has been granted an exception to conduct business. As you may know, every 10 years, states across the country redraw their legislative district boundaries, including the Ward and ANC boundaries in the District of Columbia. The Subcommittee plans to hold 8 hearings—one per Ward—between late September and late October, in order to redraw the boundaries ahead of the 2022 elections. More information on those dates as well as how to access the public facing redistricting tool that you can use at home is forthcoming. For now, check out some key dates and FAQs on Subcommittee Chair Councilmember Elissa Silverman’s page here and the recently released census data on DC here.
Recess only means the legislative process takes a brief pause, but I, along with many of my colleagues, stay active working for our residents, workers, and students.
Christina Henderson Councilmember, At-Large ChristinaHendersonDC.com
Councilmember Christina Henderson and Councilmember Charles Allen touring the new Banneker High School. Our schools are ready to welcome you back for in-person learning.
Updated Public Health Guidance
Since mid-July, we have seen a rise in cases of COVID-19 across the country. As many of you have heard, the reality is that areas with low vaccination rates are areas with the greatest increase in cases. Our biggest opportunity to stop the virus and save lives is to get vaccinated. While many do their part and get the shot, the District has enhanced protocols to keep our residents safe.
NEW! Any District resident can request to get the shot in the comfort of their own home. People who would like to schedule an appointment should call (855) 363-0333.
All District government employees must be vaccinated or show proof of a negative test weekly. Employees must be fully vaccinated before September 19th. Additionally, starting August 14th, all new hires must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
All District healthcare workers must be vaccinated. Starting September 30th, all registered health professionals, EMS providers, and unlicensed healthcare workers must have at least begun the vaccination process. Mayor Bowser and Director Nesbitt presented this information in a situational update that can be reviewed here.
DC Public Schools and many public charter schools will return to in-person learning on Monday, August 30th, 2021. After a difficult year, I know our school communities are thrilled to welcome students back to the building. There are many things we can do across the next two weeks to make sure this process is as safe as possible.
Be sure your children are up to date on routine childhood immunizations. If you have not yet made a plan to do this, I invite you to do so today. Please visit this website to see school campuses that are offering walk-up and appointment services. Students must have an updated universal health certificate on file by September 19.
If you have a student attending public school this academic year, complete this consent form allowing your student to participate in the random COVID-19 testing that will take place this school year. As a recommended practice from the CDC, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education will randomly test at least 10% of of each school’s student body on a weekly basis.
All DCPS staff are required to be fully vaccinated or tested weekly starting September 19th.
Registration for afterschool programming is open. Quality afterschool programming enhances students’ behavior while in school and is proven to improve attendance. You must be enrolled in school to opt-in for afterschool programs.
The most updated recommendations for schools from the Department of Health can be found here. The recently available protocols for DCPS and general guidance for Charter schools can be found here.
Schools will require mask wearing regardless of vaccination status.
Schools will implement a three step process for keeping students safe in the building: (1) Prevent (2) Screen (3) Inform
Preventative measures put in place include the following:
Masks and the vaccine. All members of the school community are required to wear a mask during school. All teachers and school staff are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or produce a negative test weekly. All students 12 years or older are highly encouraged to get vaccinated.
Social distancing. Students will remain 3 feet apart in the classroom and whenever possible throughout the day. During lunch, schools are encouraging students to eat outdoors and utilize larger spaces than that offered in a cafeteria. Children in Pre-K and Kindergarten will eat lunch in their classrooms.
Enhanced cleaning. In addition to HVAC upgrades, DCPS will also enhance cleaning protocols following the recommendations of the CDC and the EPA.
Staying home when sick. In general, for all schools in DC, students should stay home if one ‘red flag’ symptoms occur or if two ‘general symptoms’ occur.
Screening procedures for our school communities:
Testing. 10% – 20% of the student body will be tested at random. All students who will be randomly tested must have a consent form completed. Symptomatic testing will be available regardless of vaccination status.
Ask, ask, look. For our younger students, parents should ask about red flag symptoms or if it is possible that they have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. Then, look for any signs of illness. The decision to send your younger student to school will be determined after this process.
Informing our parents and communities:
Positive case communication. Families will receive a notification if there is a positive case within their student’s classroom and when there is a case within their school.
Quarantine procedures. For both DCPS and DCPCS, if an unvaccinated student or staff member is in close contact with a positive case, they will be required to quarantine for at least 7 days. However, they may return to the classroom after testing negative at least 5 days into this 7 day period. Vaccinated students or staff do not need to quarantine after exposure, but should take a test 3 to 5 days after the close contact.
Councilmember Christina Henderson, VP of Community Engagement at Children’s National Tonya Kinlow (left) and colleagues at the Ward 8 Community Day at Ballou High School.
The Fiscal Year 2022 Budget
Councilmember Henderson was proud to work with her colleagues and lead on reducing the maternal mortality rate, investing in quality childcare, and supporting our school communities. For a wholistic list of investment highlights supported by the Councilmember, please see here.
Maternal Health: Black and brown mothers are disproportionately impacted when giving birth in the District. The Maternal Health Resources and Access Act, the Postpartum Coverage Act, and the Certified Midwife Credential Amendment Act are three pieces of legislation funded in this budget. This holistic approach will begin to reduce the disparate maternal health outcomes across the District.
Childcare: Further supporting families, the investment in quality childcare workers is the first of its kind. The $54 million investment will enable DC to transform this sector, ensuring its workforce can earn a living wage commensurate with their experience, credentials, and value.
Education: Provides additional resources to students, teachers, and school communities, through a 3.6% increase in UPSFF funding, targeting resources for secondary grade students who need it most. The Council further focused on supporting school communities with programs focused on preventing learning loss, providing additional mental health supports, and enhancing out of school time grants, and more below.
Constituent Services Corner
Different Ways to Get Vaccinated
Any District resident can request to get the shot in the comfort of their own home. People who would like to schedule an appointment should call (855) 363-0333.
Walk-up sites across the District are posted daily here. You can check the wait times for each walk-up location here.
The resource vaccines.gov will share more locations for walk-up or appointment based sites where you can get the shot.
STAY DC Resources
Complete your STAY DC application now to receive funding that will pay off your rent and utilities. If you have questions about your eligibility, visit the homepage.
Should you or a neighbor need support submitting your application, STAY DC regularly hosts pop-up events across the District. Find an event.
Councilmember Christina Henderson, Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, and Councilmember Robert White (with his assistant!) at the Ward 4 job day event.
Thank you for reading! Please stay in touch. Our office will be closed from August 23rd to August 27th for some rest and rejuvenation.