School Reopening Testimony – Kyle Myers
Democrats for Education Reform DC
Chairman Mendelson and members of the DC Council Committee of the Whole:
My name is Kyle Myers, and I am a Ward 5 resident. I am submitting written testimony on behalf of Democrats for Education Reform DC. I am pleased to offer testimony supporting in-person learning! I have five nieces and nephews in DC Public Schools (DCPS). Watching them throughout this pandemic has shown how vital a classroom setting can be for our students. I have stepped in multiple times to provide support to my family because of these barriers, and the experience does not get any easier as time goes on.
Since March 2020, our education community in DC has been stunned and traumatized by the impact of Covid-19. While virtual learning was good in these ways, ultimately, the best way to educate students is with in-person instruction. Learning loss has been most noticeable in these areas and has widened the opportunity gap. Furthermore, students and families have faced mental health challenges that can feel insurmountable when faced with other barriers. Frankly, virtual learning, even with the best efforts, does not foster the level of motivation and joy that can and should accompany pre-k-12 learning.
Many students require in-person support to truly learn a curriculum. Virtual learning may have provided some solutions, such as allowing students the opportunity to continue learning and participating instead of sitting at home idle. Still, it does not fully grasp children’s attention. During virtual learning, our students had to overcome a lack of attention, an unorganized learning environment, and not receiving the individualized help they may have required. This can be a double burden for students who have learning challenges such as Attention -deficit hyperactivity disorder and Dyslexia. Seeing students struggle with learning has been a discouraging experience. Education is an essential part of growth and the best form of education comes from in-person, hands-on support. Not sitting behind a computer screen.
I have also witnessed that parents who have to go into work every day have a harder time supporting their families; especially if they have to physically be present with their children during the workday or find another form of childcare that may unexpectedly add to their household expenses. Some parents have had a grueling experience balancing a work schedule with a child who is at home consistently. Finding care for their child can provide an extra bill that some cannot truly afford and may provide an even more unstable learning environment.
School reopening is an absolute must. I have spoken to several students throughout DCPS and they are all thrilled that they are returning to the classroom. In addition to seeing their friends and being outside of their homes, they’re excited to see their teachers in person. It has provided relief for some parents and a clear example that we are moving toward normalcy as a society. Now there needs to be a greater focus on keeping students safe, ensuring there are enough material and extracurricular activities to keep students fully engaged, and providing the best training for teachers under these circumstances. If we get this right then we can ensure our students receive the highest quality education that prepares them for the real world.
Thank you for allowing me to submit written testimony on this important topic.