ERN DC School Reopening – Artecka Brown

Artecka Brown

Community Organizer 

Education Reform Now DC 

Executive Director John-Paul Hayworth and members of the DC State Board of Education: 

My name is Artecka Brown. I am a fourth generation Washingtonian, a Ward 5 resident, and mother. I am testifying on behalf of Education Reform Now DC, and I am pleased to offer testimony about the importance of school reopening. 

Parents should know that the schools are doing everything they can for a safe return. School transportation should ensure masks are worn at all times. I have heard parents discuss not wanting their kids to wear masks on the busses. They feel there is no need but myself and other parents are worried about the safe passage of other children. Whether it’s your child or my child with chronic health problems we need to be mindful of the spread of this serious problem. School used to be one place that was safe but now more parents are trying to do homeschooling. Because they fear the school doors opened too early or parents are not worried about other people’s children. Many parents like myself who have multiple children learn differently. One of my boys has mental challenges. He needs that special attention and one on one time that in-person learning brings. When he was learning from home it was very challenging and he wasn’t succeeding. Luckily for him he attends a boarding school so eventually he was able to go indoors where his grades quickly got back on track.

My other son, who loves school, was very excited and didn’t like to be on a screen during virtual learning. He didn’t understand instructions and was too shy to engage in the learning curriculum. He just wasn’t doing well at all. But since school has reopened he is excited and has been excelling very quickly already. Some kids love the whole idea of being in a school building to learn better but having friends is also important for children’s social emotional development. A different atmosphere for many children and structure as well as free lunches also helps our children to be anchored in a consistent and healthy safety net, allowing them to learn on multiple levels. 

According to NBC 4 there have been nearly 850 DCPS students that are in quarantine. In my 1 opinion, the number would’ve been lower if parents were on the same page when it comes to ensuring their students are wearing masks. I have observed parents not reminding their kids to put on masks on the school buses or in classrooms. 

We want our children safely back in the school buildings but if students are missing multiple school days, that’s not really benefiting the kids’ education. Children should be vaccinated and wear masks. Also kids need to wash their hands frequently and remember to social distance. For example I have a 15 year old who is vaccinated and has epilepsy. He’s very excited to be in school. Because he is vaccinated and wears his mask, I know and he knows that he will be safe. 

I believe children who are at an age where they can be vaccinated and receive the vaccination should attend school. But for parents who don’t want their kids vaccinated or wear a mask their kid should stay home. We have to be on the same page when it comes to keeping our children and other children safe. 

Thank you for allowing me to submit testimony on this important topic. 

1 September 8, 2021. NBC 4 News. “Nearly 850 DC Public School Students in Quarantine.” Source: