Although back-to-school was virtual, parents submitted photos of their students as they begin the 2020-2021 school year in D.C. (Courtesy Photo)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor

Under the hashtags #ReopenStrong and #DCPSatHome, District of Columbia Public Schools kicked off the 2020-2021 school year virtually. While back-to-school was untraditional, parents across the area posted photos of their children’s first day of school ensembles and desk setups, teachers took selfies of their home classrooms and D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Dr. Lewis Ferebee and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted messages of encouragement to commence the 2020-2021 scholastic year.   

“Success comes with community support, and I know that together we can help our future leaders reach their full potential.  Happy first day of school to DCPS students and all students starting classes today,” Mayor Bowser tweeted on Aug. 30. 

“Happy First Day of School to our students, educators, staff and families!  Though we’re starting at a distance, together, we will ensure that students have what they need to succeed,” DCPS tweeted.

“Join me in welcoming our K-12 students back to learning! On behalf of DCPS educators and staff, we are thrilled to create a virtual environment where students feel loved, challenged and prepared. Have an amazing first day of school! #DCPSatHome,” Chancellor Ferebee tweeted.

While DCPS, Ferebee and Bowser worked to create positivity and a sense of ease surrounding virtual learning, such as distributing technology and posting step-by-step instructions, as the day progressed, messaging about technological challenges and assistance began to surface.

“We’re excited about the first day of school and we know that the first day of school is often about new routines, and we recognize that some students may be experiencing issues with using their device or accessing our online learning platforms,” Ferebee said in a video. “Students needing direct assistance can go to our website at” 

The chancellor encouraged students and families to collaborate with their individual schools in order to work out any kinks.

“We encourage families to work with their schools if they’re having issues with our learning platform Canvas or any other start of school issues.  DCPS will continue to provide updates throughout the day on our website and social media related to start of school.  We thank you for your patience, we’re thrilled about the start of school and we appreciate your support in reopening strong.”

With distance learning underway, students in D.C. told the AFRO how they felt about the virtual start of school.

“I think this year is going to be different because I can’t see my friends in real life but I will try to get used to this, said fourth grader Ari.

“I think this year will be a little harder because we aren’t interacting at school, but I’m excited to see what new things we will be doing this year,” nine-year-old Anu said.

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor