Hearst Family Update

September 18, 2021

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Principal's Message

Dear Hearst Families,

Thanks to all of you who joined our Back to School Night sessions on Tuesday. If you were unable to join, please be sure to view the presentation from your child's teacher(s) via the links they have shared/will be sharing.

Have a great weekend and thanks for your continued support,


News and Announcements from Hearst

Upcoming Key Dates

  • September 22 - LSAT Meeting, 4:30-5:30

Back to School Night Principal's Presentation

My presentation from Back to School Night is attached below. Additionally, please find the talking points about Flex that I shared:

  • If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions for Flex, send them to the Hearst program coordinator Jau'Nelle Hugee at jaunelle@flexacademies.com. It is my understanding that Flex is not on the listserv so posting your challenges or recommendations there means that these things will not get addressed.
  • After school vendors were contacted about programming they could offer that combined the after care and enrichment experience offered in previous years at Hearst.
  • Flex offered programming most consistent with what we’ve had in previous years, whereas other programs offered only a handful of enrichment classes and ones that would not allow us to offer classes students have previously loved and enjoyed.
  • There is no excuse for leaving a child on the playground. That being said, Hearst’s space provides unique challenges because we do not have a playground and fields dedicated for school use. Sharing the Hearst Rec facilities means that other kids and adults and programs are on the field after school which makes it much more challenging to track kids than if the school to have a dedicated space for Flex to use.
  • After the incident in the first week, rather than counting kids, which they were doing initially, Flex instituted a system to match names and faces.
  • As demonstrated in the bullet above, Flex is adjusting their procedures and protocols in real time in response to unanticipated challenges in the very same way that the school is. I ask that you give them a bit of grace as they work through things in the same way you’re giving grace to the school.
  • Finally, if you don’t want to work with Flex through the growing pains that any new vendor has when starting a program at a new school, you’re welcome to research other after school options and provide Jen with contact information for those other vendors. We can extend the option of working at Hearst to other programs, however please know this may drive up costs of both programs because they’ll be splitting the number of kids between the programs.

Reminder: Asymptomatic Student Testing on Tuesday - Updated Information About Accessing Student Results

As a reminder, our asymptomatic testing window will be every Tuesday from 2:15-3:00pm. During a typical week, we will test a random sample of 35 students each week and attempt to test at least one student from each homeroom each week. Here are a few things to know about asymptomatic testing :

  • Teachers will be provided with names of students to be tested and those students will be escorted by staff to our testing location.
  • Because the test is a saliva test, students identified for testing cannot eat or drink an hour before their testing window.

Families of kids who are tested will receive notification that their child was tested and information on how to access the online portal where they will be able to view results. Your child may indicate that they were pulled for testing but they were not given a letter with online portal log in information. If this is the case, this means that your child did not produce enough saliva to fill the test tube. Please reach out to Ms. Johnson (kestaganer.johnson@k12.dc.gov) with any questions and/or if you would like to opt your child out of asymptomatic testing. If you wish to opt-out your student from receiving any COVID-19 test at school, you must complete the available at osse.dc.gov/page/school-based-covid-19-testing and email it to the school at kestaganer.johnson@k12.dc.gov.


Here are the directions for accessing results asymptomatic testing. https://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/page_content/attachments/Participant portal login_k12_dc_parent_FINAL.pdf. Our Agency Code is: HearstES.

We believe that the email you use to register on site has to be the primary contact's email used to enroll your child. You will also have to wait at least 12 hours until after the student was tested for the agency code to work. We've also heard from families that some of the challenges that they were experiencing were sometimes, but not always, resolved by switching internet browsers. If none of these solutions work, please call technical support for the website at (833) 762-0762.

Tips for Wearing Masks with Glasses to Try with Your Kids

If your child is struggling to keep a mask up over their nose while wearing glasses, families shared the following tips at Back to School Night:

  • Medical tape works well to prevent fogging in adults
  • Masks that have metal clips on the nose bridge help with glass fog.
  • Tape at the top of the nose bridge on your mask?
  • I use a straightened paper clip in the seam of my mask and bend it around the bridge of my nose (under my glasses).
  • Kids with glasses must remember to put glasses OVER the mask on their nose. Keep it simple.
  • A well fitting mask that is tight around the nose makes a huge difference in fogging. So tight mask and glasses on top. It's worth trying out a few different types of masks to see what fits a kid's face best.

9/18/21 FAQs From Families

Q: Parents would like some more information about the testing procedure. For example, who is in the testing room with the child and the contractor? We understand the saliva tests are particularly difficult for young children. How long does the child have to try before the tester lets them go? As a temporary solution to this problem, would it be possible for multiple children from a single younger child classroom to try to produce a sample each week, so we can ensure that each classroom is represented in the ultimate sample each week?

A: We pull multiple children from multiple classrooms, bring them all to the gym in a group, and spread them out around the gym to complete the actual test. A Hearst staff member as well as a PCT and the contracted testing team is in the gym with the students while they are testing.

In terms of amount of time given to test, if all children in a testing group have been able to produce a sample and one or two have not, we'll end the testing attempt for the final child(ren) and bring all of the kids in that testing group back to class. Of course if a child is distressed in any way about attempting to provide a sample at any point in the process, we'll end the testing attempt immediately. Once the group leaves the gym, the tables they were sitting at are sanitized by the testing contractors before the next group comes into the gym.

Please also know that multiple principals have raised up to DCPS the challenges the saliva test is presenting for our youngest students and our students in our CES classrooms, as well as the request that we be able to offer nasal swabs for those children. DCPS has said they are passing along this information to OSSE, the organization that runs the asymptomatic testing program.

Q: We have heard of at least one child who had to drop out of testing because she was too hungry by the time testing was to occur that she ultimately could not meet the fasting requirements. When this happens, will the school be able to make arrangements for another student to take the place of any students who unexpectedly do not meet the fasting requirements?

A: Yes.

Q: If a student tests positive through this in-school asymptomatic testing, what is the protocol and timing for notification of the family? What happens if the school can't reach someone on the phone? Given some challenges families are having with getting accounts set up in the online portal or with linking all of their children to their account, is there some point in time after the test that families could assume if they haven’t heard from the school that their kid is negative?

A: The notification protocol is the one that we've been sharing since the 8/18 information session and that can also be found at https://dcpsreopenstrong.com/health/. In short, if there is a positive case, the family will be contacted individually and a letter will also be sent to the community. The timing is dependent upon when DCPS sends me the officially approved letters to share with our families.

Q: Do you have advice for us on how to get these technical problems with the portal resolved, including whether it could be raised with appropriate personnel at DCPS who might escalate to the ShieldT3 Health vendor to resolve these technical problems and advise parents of any special instructions for using the portal?

A: The technical challenges have been raised to DCPS by several principals including me and DCPS has raised them to OSSE, the organization that runs the testing. Please also see the update above with tips we at Hearst have been able to put together.

If you have additional questions, please be sure to first check https://dcpsreopenstrong.com/health/ for the DCPS policies and protocols we are following at Hearst.

News and Announcements from DCPS

SY21-22 Food and Nutrition Services Updates

  • All meals are free to all DCPS Students in SY 21/22. We still encourage students who attend SOP (paid) schools like Hearst to complete a Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) application to ensure student eligibility for other benefits and school funding.
  • Close-contact quarantine students, through their parent or guardian, are eligible to receive meal kits from one of the following locations, every Monday and Wednesday from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM:
· Columbia Heights Education Campus
· Dunbar High School
· Ron Brown High School
· Ballou High School

  • Here is the link to the SY21-22 Dietary Accommodation Forms. Any student that requires a different meal than what is being served (due to medical, food allergy, or philosophical reason) must complete this attached form and submit it to dietary.forms@k12.dc.gov or to the cafeteria lead. This allows us to create menus and prepare meals that reflect the unique needs of each student. Effective immediately, new forms are required only when the student requires a new accommodation or a change to their accommodation.
  • Follow us on social media to stay tuned with our latest events on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter using @DCPSEats.

  • More Helpful Links:
  • SY21-22 FARM Application(SOP sites only)
  • DCPS Website | Food and Nutrition Services

Reminder: Student Immunization Requirements for In-person Attendance

Schools are reminded to alert families about the importance of submitting health forms, including updated immunization records and Universal Health Certificates. All students must have updated immunization records on file with the school. Students who are not compliant with their immunizations are not to attend past 20 school days, until appropriate records are submitted. View OSSE’s Immunization Attendance policy here. Please email health forms to manik.hinchey@k12.dc.gov or send them in with your students.

News and Announcements from Other Organizations

Reminder: New Adaptive Outdoor Tennis Program

I am the director of a new outdoor tennis program called ACEing Autism, Washington to be held at the Rock Creek Tennis Center on 16th and Kennedy Streets, NW (home of the recent Citi Open Tournament) from September 25 to October 30, 2021. I am hoping that you would be willing to spread the word about this program to the Hearst Elementary School community. I've already let the PTA Co-president, Kerry Schwed, know about it.

ACEing Autism is a national nonprofit organization that provides affordable weekly tennis clinics to children (5-18 years of age) on the autism spectrum. Each participant is paired with 1 or 2 volunteer instructors based on their needs. The program uses the game of tennis to foster the enjoyment of fitness, improve gross and small-motor skills, hand-eye coordination, communications, social skills, and self-esteem.

I was the lead teacher of the ACEing Autism classes at the Wheaton Indoor Tennis Center until COVID-19 put things on hold. I miss teaching those classes and know firsthand what a positive impact the program has on the students and families, so with the support of many people, we decided to start up an outdoor program in D.C. The Wheaton location may start again at the end of October.

Participants can sign up on our website: https://aceingautism.org/locations/washington-dc/. We are also looking for volunteers to assist the students during the classes. Student volunteers (16 yrs. and older) get SSL hours. Special Education or other teachers and Hearst ES parents would also make wonderful volunteers. Interested volunteers should send an email to washington@aceingautism.org.

I've attached a flyer in hopes that you will display it at your school.

To learn more about our national organization, please visit our website at www.aceingautism.org or feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

Thank you in advance for your assistance and support of our program.

Rachel Bloch, Program Director

ACEing Autism, Washington, DC

(240) 506-4813