As we begin the transition from summer to autumn, there’s a lot going on across the District. At the end of August, schools across the city welcomed students back for the 2021-2022 academic year. Throughout recess, I have been busy visiting schools prior to the first day, closely following our school communities and listening to their concerns about returning to in-person learning, and engaging in oversight with the relevant agencies. The Council will hold a few hearings regarding school reopening in the coming weeks, with more information below.
Additionally, the redistricting process will officially begin at the end of September, with a goal of voting on new Ward boundaries this December, and ANC boundaries in mid-2022. The Office of Planning recently released an online redistricting tool for the public to provide input on potential maps. The Subcommittee on Redistricting, of which I am a member, will host its first of several public hearings on September 29th. If you’re a census nerd like me, keep reading for more information on how to participate and provide feedback.
Finally, I’d like to share a personal update. I recently gave birth to my second daughter at the end of August. I’m currently on maternity leave but I will continue to engage on pressing issues facing the District and you, our constituents. My team remains hard at work and available to you.
Have you and your family gotten vaccinated? If you’d like to learn more about the vaccine before taking the shot, please see this helpful resource. The vaccine protects you, your loved ones, and your neighbors from this virus. Let’s end the pandemic together.
Our students have been learning in-person for a few weeks now. I understand and appreciate the hard work of our teachers, administrators, staff, and the wider school community which made this return to in-person learning possible. I do continue to believe it is possible to keep our communities safe and provide in-person learning for our students. However, it does require that appropriate policies and protocols are in place, and that they are followed with fidelity.
There is more work to be done to continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, especially among our school and early childhood communities. I will continue to work with my colleagues and counterparts in the executive branch to revisit existing policies and protocols to ensure they are achieving the intended goal of protecting communities and mitigating the spread of the virus. Right now, my staff and I are drafting potential legislation on variety issues should the Executive choose not to proactively act.
Just prior to the start of the school year, I organized a letter to the Mayor requesting an update to require vaccinations for all public school employees, child care facility employees, and any DC government employees, contractors, grantees, or interns who have regular in-person contact with minors, with appropriate exemptions. I believe that this is one simple way we can continue to improve our protocols and policies to continue to protect our students.
Today, our ask was answered. I am happy to share we have updated vaccine protocols and requirements for all teachers and childcare workers in the District. All teachers – public, charter, and private – as well as childcare workers are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before November 1st. A list of who this mandate covers is included in the image below. This is a step in the right direction, there is more work to be done.
There are opportunities to engage the Council on the return to in-person learning. On Tuesday, September 21st at 1:00pm, the Committee of the Whole will hold a roundtable on the first few weeks of in-person school via zoom. The Chancellor, State Superintendent of Education, and other education sector leaders have been invited to testify.
The Committee of the Whole and the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities will host a joint public roundtable on school facility conditions during the re-opening for school year 2021-2022. The hearing will take place via Zoom on Tuesday, September 28th at 9 AM.
Redistricting the District
The first wave of census data is live. According to the numbers, DC is home to a population that is 40% Black or African American, 38% white, 11% Hispanic or Latino, and 5% Asian. These numbers make us the fifth most diverse place in the nation. Let that sink in. There are only four other places in the nation that are more diverse than our home. In totality, our population has grown by 13%, or about 88,000 people. That is much more than the 7.4% average growth across the nation.
In addition to striving for an accurate count on our communities, the census begins the redistricting process. I am proud to serve on the Redistricting Subcommittee alongside Chairperson Elissa Silverman and Councilmember Anita Bonds. A brief timeline and FAQ sharing more on the process is below.
FAQ on Redistricting
Why do we need to go through the redistricting process?
According to District redistricting criteria, all 8 Wards must have approximately the same population size, plus or minus 5%. With the 2020 census figures the average population size for a Ward is 86,193 residents with a range is between 81,883 and 90,503. In the last ten years, we’ve seen residents move neighborhoods, leave, and most prominently, make DC their new home. Looking at the numbers, Ward 6 grew by about 42% increasing to a total of over 108,000 residents. Wards 7 and 8 saw slower growth and will need to gain residents in order to meet our total range.
What is a Ward taskforce?
Ward taskforces are groups appointed by each Ward Councilmember, plus one appointee from At-Large Councilmembers, to redraw ANC boundaries. Taskforces can be as large or as small as Ward members desire. Once the Ward lines are complete, Ward taskforces will also have a 90-day clock to present their proposals to the Council.
How can I make suggestions to the Subcommittee?
The Office of Planning will launch a redistricting mapping website for public use. Granular, community-level data will be pre-loaded into the site. You will be able to move Ward and ANC boundary lines to see how redistricting could occur. There will be a process for saving and submitting you map to the Subcommittee. Please attend one of the training sessions outlined below I mentioned earlier should you be interested in utilizing this tool. You can sign up here.
Hearings Scheduled this Fall
While we have been hard at work during recess, the Council will fully return to business on October 1st. Many hearings for this Fall are already scheduled. I hope you’ll consider attending and sharing testimony on many bills I introduced earlier this calendar year. Find our full hearing schedule for the next few months here. More dates will be added in the coming weeks.
Art All Night
The annual event of Art All Night will celebrate District artists, small businesses, and communities in all eight Wards. Each neighborhood likes to put their own special twist on the evening and I cannot wait to see what’s in store this year. Check out the details here. Activations will happen from 7 PM to 3 AM (I know, late!) on September 24th and 25th. It’s also free!
I am so happy to share that my family has grown by one! I recently gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Cameron Linh. My 2-year-old and now big sister Jordan is adjusting to the new family addition nicely! I am currently on maternity leave while my team remains hard at work. I wanted to make sure these September updates made it to your inbox in a timely manner. Now, back to baby duty! Wishing you and your family a productive and healthy transition to Fall.
Team Henderson is hiring for a Senior Legislative Assistant. Click here for more on the job opportunity. Thank you for reading! Please stay in touch.
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