Authentic Collaboration Yields Progress for DC Students 

Feb 8, 2021

By Shannon T. Hodge

Several weeks ago, as part of the District of Columbia’s commitment to prioritizing in-person learning, Mayor Bowser, DC Health, and Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn developed a partnership with primary care provider One Medical to enable public charter school teachers and staff to access the COVID-19 vaccine. The administration invited the DC Charter School Alliance and the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board to the table to ensure that school leaders and their staff have the information they need to register and receive the vaccine. This truly collaborative effort is a massive undertaking, one that is essential to continuing to open schools to larger numbers of students learning in person. 

This effort also illustrates how Mayor Bowser’s team has and can continue to foster cross-sector public–private partnerships. At their core, charter schools are places where innovation and community-mindedness align to create meaningful, equitable outcomes for students. This vaccine program is no exception: The DC Charter School Alliance developed structures to identify eligible personnel, gather and process necessary information, and communicate regularly with thousands of charter school teachers, staff, and leaders. Our member schools responded quickly, supported their team members with the registration process, and provided ongoing feedback to help us improve our work. As a sector, we have helped refine the program so that it can be fully maximized and replicated for our partners in other sectors, like child care educators whose vaccination window opened last week. 

We need more partnerships like this to continue to build DC into a model urban school district and to advance solutions that are good for DC families. The DC Charter School Alliance is here to think critically, offer solutions to advance equity, and authentically engage our members and partners. As we look ahead to an equitable recovery for the District, we are eager to continue these collaborations so that every educator has access to the vaccine, every student can get the support they need to thrive, and every school can meet the needs of its community.