This week has been all about getting ready for the start of the new school year! Check out all of our back-to-school events tomorrow, our Ward 4 Summer Saturday community events, my update on ANC candidates, and plenty of other community resources and local news:
Ward 4 and Legislative News
Four Back-to-School Events in Ward 4 on Saturday
Does your family or a family you know still need school supplies before school restarts? Or do you just want to partake in celebrating the start of the new school year? We have no less than four back-to-school giveaway events this Saturday, August 27 in Ward 4:
- 10am-2pm at Riggs-LaSalle Rec Center (501 Riggs Rd NE)
- 11am-1pm at Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW)
- 12pm-5pm on the 600 block of Kennedy Street NW
- 1pm-5pm at Carter Barron Amphitheatre Plaza (4850 Colorado Ave NW)
Check out the flyers or scroll down for more details on each event. Thank you to our amazing community partners for coming together to host these fun events for our Ward 4 scholars!
Continuing Oversight for School Readiness
Late last week and early this week we received data from DC Health, the Department of General Services (DGS) and DCPS in response to the Back to School Safely Emergency Act, which I drafted with Chairman Mendelson and the Council unanimously approved in July. DC Health shared an update on the percentage of DCPS, PCS, and private school students who are caught up on their required immunizations (not including COVID). The data shows that we still have a long way to go towards 100% compliance. We also have some data quality problems that should get worked out in future reporting. Today OSSE announced delayed enforcement for DC’s requirement for students to receive their COVID shot and other pediatric immunizations. Students in Pre-K through Grade 5 will have until October 11 to catch up on their routine pediatric immunizations. And students in Grades 6-12 will now have until November 4 for their pediatric immunizations. Meanwhile, the COVID vaccine requirement for all DC students ages 12 and up will go into effect on January 3, 2023. DCPS has a helpful list of locations where families can get their kids vaccinated that’s updated daily.
The Back to School Safely Emergency bill also required new reporting from DGS and DCPS on the state of school building readiness. On Monday, we got an updated list of DCPS buildings using contingency cooling units (roughly one third of schools), data on HVAC system condition ratings (roughly two thirds of systems have not been fully assessed since January 2020), and the count of HEPA filters and indoor air quality monitors per school (HEPA filters are in every building; there are 10 air quality monitors per building). Although our use of high-quality MERV filters, HEPA filters, and air quality monitors helps ensure air circulation is strong, the data shows that we’re too reliant on contingency measures like spot coolers and window units to keep our buildings at a comfortable temperature. My team and I are continuing to follow up on the issues we identified during our August school readiness visits earlier this month so they can be addressed as soon as possible. DGS crews and contractors are working around the clock and throughout the weekend on needed repairs, but we should not be cutting it this close.
Yesterday, I also participated in a confidential briefing on school safety systems. The briefing was kept confidential so that we could discuss specific information on which schools lack fully locking doors, fully functional PA systems, fire alarms, or security systems. DGS shared mostly encouraging information and pledged to fix all high-priority issues before the start of classes on Monday. I remain concerned with the quality of DGS’ data systems and communication between downtown and school-level employees. For example, I had to supplement some of DGS’ presentation with information I gained from touring every Ward 4 DCPS school earlier this month. My colleague Councilmember Robert White, who chairs the committee that oversees DGS, shared additional information about the meeting. It’s unfortunate that our agency leadership didn’t complete a more thorough review of building safety systems, but I’ll pledge to continue fighting for better conditions in our schools and other public facilities throughout the District. Students deserve safe, comfortable learning environments, but DC has fallen short of the mark far too often.
Write-in ANC Candidates Needed for Two Ward 4 SDMs
Thank you to every neighbor who has filed to serve our community as an ANC Commissioner. I’m proud that Ward 4 had the fewest number of Single Member Districts without a candidate. You can check out a list of candidates who have filed to run on the DC Board of Elections website. I want to put a call out for write-in candidates for our two remaining Single Member Districts without a candidate: 4C01 in Petworth and 4A06 in Brightwood (mapped below). If you live in either of these districts, please consider stepping up to serve as an ANC Commissioner. The process for running as a write-in candidate is surprisingly easy, as helpfully outlined in Petworth News. 4C01 includes five DCPS schools, several small businesses, two pools, two rec centers and the Petworth Library. Meanwhile, 4A06 includes Fort Stevens, Military Road Early Learning Center, multiple apartment buildings, and several schools and small businesses. It would be a shame for these important neighborhoods to go unrepresented, so please consider running or encouraging a neighbor who would be a good match to run.
DCPS Require a COVID-19 Test to Return to School
DCPS announced that it is requiring a negative COVID-19 rapid test result to allow students to return to school. Students and their families could pick up a test kit at their school throughout this week or from a nearby COVID Center. Students in grades K-12 will need to take a COVID test on Sunday, August 28 and Pre-K students will need to take their test on Wednesday, August 31 to return to school.
Resources for Preventing Evictions and Foreclosures
We know many of our neighbors are still struggling with housing issues. I want to ensure that residents know about the Landlord Tenant Legal Assistance Network, which operates a hotline that connects tenants to an attorney, who can provide a range of free legal information, advice, or representation. The hotline number is 202-780-2575 and accepts calls on Mondays through Fridays from 9am-4pm. Tenants with questions can also submit an online intake form. This hotline program has successfully stopped approximately 70% of evictions sought by landlords from September 2021 to March 2022. For homeowners who are struggling, the Homeowner Assistance Fund provides generous benefits covering missed and future mortgage payments, owed property taxes, utility costs, and more. Homeowners who have an application pending are protected from any foreclosure moving forward. Please let your neighbors know!
WMATA Warns of Major Blue and Yellow Line Construction This Fall
Metro riders, it’s time to start planning ahead. Metro is asking commuters to prepare for an 8-month construction project that will impact the Yellow Line and Blue Line, with free shuttles being provided during this duration. The first phase of the project will shut down rail service entirely south of National Airport. There will be no Yellow Line service during this first phase, but Yellow Line stations north of National Airport will be served by the Blue or Green lines instead. Read WMATA’s full announcement for more information.
Riggs LaSalle Back 2 School Public Safety Day
On Saturday, August 27 from 10am-2pm there will be a Back 2 School Public Safety Day at Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center (501 Riggs Rd NE). The event will feature book bags, moon bounce, arts and crafts, school supplies, music, a game truck, haircuts, a water slide, and food!
Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway at Emery Heights
On Saturday, August 27 from 11am-1pm there will a Back 2 School Backpack Giveaway at Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW) coordinated by Friends of Emery, Georgia Avenue Family Support Collaborative, and AintChoMommaz. Bring out your kids for backpacks, school supplies, free pizza, a food truck, and more while supplies last.
16th Street Neighborhood Association Summer Block Party
On Saturday, August 27 from 12pm-4pm the 16th Street Neighborhood Association will host their annual summer block party on the 1500 block of Allison Street NW (between 15th and 16th Street). There will be food, games, tie-dyeing, ponies, and socializing, and everyone is welcome! The rain date is Sunday, August 28 at the same time and place.
Zion Baptist Church Back to School Block Party on Kennedy Street
On Saturday, August 27 from 12pm-5pm Zion Baptist Church is partnering with my office and DC Public Library’s Outreach and Inclusion to host a Back to School Block Party at 608 Kennedy Street NW. We will be giving out backpacks and school supplies for our Ward 4 scholars, and there will be food, drinks, music, games, immunizations, and more!
Housing and Displacement: DC Walking Tour in Brightwood Park
On Saturday, August 27 at 1pm-3pm Metro DSA and SOS will host a DC Walking Tour focused on highlighting housing and displacement at three sites in Brightwood Park, starting from 15 Kennedy Street NW. The tour will be led by Tanya Golash-Boza and Maya Cherkasky, and snacks and drinks will be provided throughout the tour. Sign up here to attend.
Mini Concert and Back to School Giveaway at Carter Barron Amphitheatre Plaza
On Saturday, August 27 from 1pm-5pm the Friends of Carter Barron will host a back-to-high-school go-go event for DC students and their families at Carter Barron Amphitheatre Plaza. Rare Essence Band and TOB Band will be performing, school supplies will be distributed to local high school students, and there will be free food, double dutch, and basketball! Students and their families can attend for free, and paid tickets are available for the general public.
Lamond Community Day
On Saturday, August 27 from 1pm-6pm Lamond Recreation Center (20 Tuckerman St NE) will host Lamond Community Day for new, old, and alumni Lamond neighbors. Come enjoy food, music, dancing, cards, games, and a moon bounce!
Hellbender Record Fair Returns
On Saturday, August 27 from 1pm-7pm, Hellbender Record Fair returns to our beloved Ward 4 Hellbender brewery. Come to 5788 2nd St NE for beer, vinyl records, and food trucks. And thank you to the Parks Main Street for supporting this event!
Six Months Moratorium to Stop the Killings Cookout/Amateur Boxing Match at Upshur
On Saturday, August 27 from 1pm-8:30pm CEASE FIRE Don’t Smoke The Brothers & Sisters will host the annual Six Months Moratorium to Stop the Killings Cookout/Amateur Boxing Match at Upshur Rec Center (4300 Arkansas Ave NW). Join a day full of community, love, and respect with plenty of free food, health screenings, and entertainment. This event happens annually to promote unity and peace in our community. RSVP on Facebook!
Soul Mega Summerfest: Beer Festival at the Parks at Walter Reed
On Saturday, August 27 from 1pm-6pm Soul Mega will host Summerfest to celebrate its three-year anniversary at the Parks at Walter Reed. Enjoy refreshing beer, food vendors, DJ performances, and great company at Summerfest, which is a 21+ event requiring tickets. Summerfest will take place in the historic West Lot of the Walter Reed campus.
Petworth Jazz Project Is Back with Lenny Robinson’s Exploration
On Saturday, August 27 starting from 5pm-8pm the Petworth Jazz Project is back with a performance at Petworth Rec Center (8th and Taylor NW). This popular free music event kicks off at 5pm with kids’ music from Papa Ras D, followed by the main performance by Lenny Robinson’s Exploration at 6pm. Nearby businesses will be offering specials.
Backpack Giveaway and Softball Game at Coolidge
On Sunday, August 28 from 10am-2pm Purpose Is Life and Future Moguls will host a backpack giveaway and softball game at Coolidge High School (6315 5th St NW). Their goal is to fill 200 backpacks for school-aged children in DC!
Ward 4 International Overdose Awareness Day Community Pop-Up
On Wednesday, August 31 at 3pm-6pm there will be a community resource and engagement pop up for International Overdose Awareness Day at Triangle Park (Georgia Ave between Upshur and Taylor Streets NW). The event will include distributing kits (including Narcan and Fentanyl diagnostic strips), on-site recovery coaches, counseling, entertainment, and snacks.
New Beginnings Community Event at Chevy Chase Farmers Market
On Saturday, September 3 at 9am-11:30am the Chevy Chase Farmers Market at Lafayette Elementary will host a special community event to to celebrate new school beginnings. They will have an ice cream truck parked on Broad Branch Road for purchase, plus each family with kids will receive one free perennial seedling from Evans Home & Garden.
Outdoor Fitness Park (FitLot) Ribbon Cutting at Lamond Rec Center
On Thursday, September 8 at 1pm AARP DC is hosting a grand opening of the outdoor fitness park located at Lamond Rec Center (20 Tuckerman St NE) with DPR and myself as your Ward 4 Councilmember. The fitness park is open to the public and people of all ages and has FitLot exercise equipment that can be adapted to meet a wide range of fitness levels and abilities. This free event will include food, equipment demonstrations, and giveaways!
And take some time to visit your local Ward 4 Farmers Market:
- Uptown Farmers Market at 5501 Colorado Ave NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Chevy Chase Farmers Market at Lafayette Elementary on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Petworth Community Market at 9th & Upshur NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Takoma Park Farmers Market at 6931 Laurel Ave on Sundays from 10am-2pm
- The Parks at Walter Reed Farmers Market at 6310 Cameron Drive NW on Sundays from 9am-1pm
Please note that the Farm Stand at Bertie Backus in Riggs Park has been cancelled due to vendor unavailability.
Washington Post: The DC library in Lamond Riggs has a new name. Meet the woman it honors.
Petworth News: Enjoy a family fun day (and Petworth Jazz Project) at Lincoln’s Cottage Homecoming on Sept 17
Petworth News: Join Roosevelt High School “Tour de Roosevelt” on September 18th
Washington Post: Colonial gems in a lush hideaway mark this Northwest DC community (Colonial Village)
Axios: DCPS scrambles to prep buildings and students for another school year
Celebrate Petworth: Sign up for the Dog Show at the Celebrate Petworth Festival!
Last Week’s Ward 4 Dispatch: Takoma Pool Opening, Ice N’ Slice, and Payments for Early Childhood Educators
One of the highlights of my week was having the Peoples UCC Summer Vacation Bible School group visit my Council office to share their experiences and talk about how young people can (and already do) make a difference in our community. I always feel hopeful when I speak to children who are eager to make waves in our city. Thank you for stopping by!
I also want to wish our community a fantastic school year. This week I visited some of our DC public charter schools as they kicked off their first day (shoutout to EL Haynes and Paul PCS), and on Monday I’ll be out and about greeting the rest of our Ward 4 scholars as they head into their first day. I’m so grateful to all the teachers, staff, school leaders, and parents who are working hard to make it a successful school year.
Yours in Service,