Payne Wildcat News: Classroom Availability | Covid Testing | Summer School

Hello, Payne Community. 

Thanks to everyone who attended last week’s PTSA meeting, and thanks to those who shared thoughts and questions with Principal Byrd. If you missed it, several parents expressed concerns that not all families were asked whether they’d like to enroll their children in CARES classrooms. There also was confusion about how offers were made for in-person seats for teacher classrooms and whether a formal policy was in place. 

Principal Byrd has asked parents to email her directly if you did not receive a call for a classroom seat: The PTSA encourages you to express your desires for Term 4 and beyond when you email Principal Byrd. Has your initial answer changed and you’d be interested in an availability? Let Principal Byrd know that, too. Some of Payne’s CARES and teaching classrooms have seats available. When notifying parents of available seats, the school now will both call and email families. Principal Byrd provided the classroom status as of March 7: 

In-Person Learning With Teacher (Spots filled)

  • PK3: Ms. Stokes (8 out of 8)
  • PK3: Ms. Campbell (5 out of 8)
  • Kindergarten: Ms. Fox (10 out of 10)
  • Third Grade: Ms. Jones (11 out of 11)
  • Behavior and Education Support: Ms. Flanders (2 out of 5)

Principal Byrd said seats have been offered in these classrooms because teachers are available. As personnel becomes available, additional classrooms will be opened. 

CARE Classrooms (Spots filled)

  • PK4: (6 out of 10)
  • Kindergarten: (6 out of 11)
  • First Grade: (10 out of 11)
  • Second through Fifth Grades Combined Class: (9 out of 11)

Not a member of the Payne PTSA? Please click here and join us!



DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee led a TeleTownhall update last week, providing insights on the future of in-school instruction. Here are some key takeaways: 

  • Talks are underway to expand in-person learning in Term 4, following spring break, on April 19, contingent on capacity. 
  • DCPS anticipates full in-person learning in the fall.
  • PARCC testing looks like it will be cancelled this year. It hasn’t officially been cancelled,  but the Office of the State Superintendent for Education has requested the waiver, and DCPS has stopped preparing for it.



DCPS is updating how it conducts tests asymptomatic Covid testing in school. Effective March 15, school nurses will begin testing 10 percent of the school population. Only those students with consent forms will receive the test. Click here for the form. Schools will continue to provide on-site rapid testing for symptomatic individuals.



Payne will host Family Math Night from 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. March 17. Teams links will be distributed in four categories: PK3 and PK4; Kindergarten and first grade; second and third grades; and fourth and fifth grades.

Please RSVP to Manager of Specialized Instruction Steven Eskay at And stop by Payne to pick up your kit to build an abacus with art teacher Ms. Harvey. 



During the PTSA meeting, fourth grade ELA and social studies teacher Ms. Foster shared several ways parents and family can prepare their students for a return to school, whether it’s this year or next:

  1. Review proper mask safety with students.
  2. Practice handwriting skills at home. So much online learning can weaken this skill. 
  3. Find out your child’s most recent reading level. During the summer, schedule regular time for your child to “DEAR” — drop everything and read. Use a book slightly above their level. 
  4. Have your child keep a journal, which is another way to practice handwriting.



Payne is planning a four-week, in-person Summer Academy starting in July.  The format will be instruction in the morning and camp activities in the afternoon. Principal Byrd says a survey will be sent soon to gauge interest. 

In addition, DCPS will offer its normal Extended School Year program for students identified by Individualized Education Plan (IEP) teams at risk of possible skill regression.



Whether you missed the sale or want to restock, this is your last opportunity to order Girl Scout cookies and support Payne Girl Scout Troop 1455. The sale ends March 14. Click here to buy cookies now. There is a four-box minimum, and there are shipping costs. Questions? Email



If you thought you missed trivia night, you’re in luck. The PTSA had to reschedule, and the new date is 8 p.m. March 15. Anyone who signed up the first time already has a seat. If you’d like to snatch one of the remaining seats, email



We wish a special thank you to our Payne PTSA sponsors for this year!

Gold Sponsors:

Jeanne Phil Meg Team at Compass

Here is a little about the Jeanne Phil Meg Team at Compass: “Founding agents of the Compass Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. real estate office, The Jeanne Phil Meg Team has been described by clients and colleagues alike as knowledgeable, collaborative, professional, motivated, and trustworthy. Successful realtors since 2004, they have earned numerous awards for excellent customer service and sales over the years and have been named one of Washingtonian Magazine’s Best Teams annually since 2016. But the Team is most proud of being LONGTIME sponsors and supporters of practically every event that takes place here in the Capitol Hill Community, be it school fundraisers, community social events, or a variety of philanthropic endeavors helping other neighbors.”

Capitol Hill Auto Service 

Here is a little about Capitol Hill Auto Service: “My name is Chris and I own Capitol Hill Auto Service.  My parents bought the business back in the summer of 2000.  Their thought was to start something that I could take on and make my own.  After 9 years of learning the ropes, I bought it from them in 2009.  I have become a strong believer in and supporter of small businesses in America now that I know what type of commitment it takes to keep one alive. I’m proud to continue my family’s legacy valuing customer service and providing quality work to all of our customers.” 

Silver Sponsors:

Tiber Realty Group

DC Access

Bronze Sponsors:

Chris Cox at First Savings Mortgage

Fowler Architects



March 11: DCPS Early Childhood focus group meeting for PK3 and PK4 parents, 5-6 p.m. Email for more info. 

March 12: Term 3 Progress Reports mailed. 

March 17: Math night, 5:15 p.m.-6:30 p.m. 

March 19: Deadline to complete the 2021 Panorama Student Survey and Panorama Family Survey.

April 12-16: Spring break, no school

May 3-9: East City Bookshop Payne Fundraiser. Buy books online, and 20 percent of sales will benefit Payne. We’ll distribute a special link to make sure Payne gets book-buying credit. 

Payne Wildcat News: PTSA Meeting with Principal Byrd | Clear Mask Delivery | Parent Focus Group

Hello, Wildcats. 

Please join the PTSA at 6 p.m. Wednesday for a virtual meeting. Principal Byrd will attend and will help to field questions from the Payne community. The PTSA also will provide an overview of work we’ve done so far this year and an outlook for the months ahead.

Link to attend the virtual PTSA meeting:

Do you have a question, concern or idea for the PTSA or Principal Byrd? Please click here and fill out this form. We value input from the entire Payne community and want to hear what’s on your mind.

DCPS Term 3 Meeting: DCPS will have a Term 3 TeleTownhall, also on Wednesday, at 5 p.m. PTSA will be watching this meeting and will share highlights. If you’d like to attend this one as well, click here for details.



Specially-designed masks for Payne’s deaf and hard of hearing program have arrived. These anti-fogging masks are made with a clear screen that allows you to see mouth movements and better understand facial cues. The masks were funded through a $2,000 Capitol Hill Community Foundation grant. The PTSA received a substantial discount after the seller learned Payne is a Title 1 school with a DHOH program. 



Reading Partners, a tutoring program that has been helping Payne students learn to read for years, is encouraging families to sign up for virtual sessions on Zoom. The program is offering 1-on-1 reading tutoring to students, free of charge, and will work with your family’s schedule.

  • All Kindergarten and first grade students are eligible for the program.
  • Second, third and fourth grade students who are behind grade level also are eligible.

This is a fantastic opportunity to supplement school instruction. If you are interested, please reach out to Natalie Danett at or call 845-803-9770.



Serve Your City Ward 6 Mutual Aid is offering free tutoring and enrichment opportunities, including guitar lessons, yoga, and cooking classes. Click here to sign up and for their full list of offerings. They also share a handy list of free activities you can do independently at home. 



DCPS Early Childhood division is seeking parent feedback on a safe and successful school year for 2021-2022 and is hosting a focus group meeting for PK3 and PK4 parents, 5-6 p.m. March 11. 

The meeting is addressing two topics: 

  1. Reopening: How DCPS is safely preparing to bring students back to school for School Year 2021-2022.
  2. Learning Recovery: What are your concerns around learning loss that may have occurred for our youngest learners, and what would families like to see to address the losses? 

If you would like to participate in the meeting email:, family service coordinator at DCPS. Include your name and your child’s name. 



The 2021 Panorama Student Survey and Panorama Family Survey are open through March 19. “The Panorama Survey is a critical way to measure progress toward our goal that every student feels loved, challenged, and prepared to positively influence society and thrive in life,” DCPS writes. “And your feedback helps us better understand the needs of our students and families.” Read more about the survey and how schools use it at



D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson held a community meeting last week on an “Academic Recovery Plan,” and representatives from the Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization provided a concise summary of what parents care about. Suggestions include more mental health professionals and some clarity on Term 4. Click here for their report.



As a reminder, Payne Elementary School is an Honored School. Go to to recognize our teachers today. Those who participate and share praise for a Payne teacher will be randomly entered to win a gift card from Amazon, and your teacher could win a gift card to Tryst Coffee Shop. When you honor a teacher the message is shared on social media like this Facebook post: 



Monday, March 1: My School DC Application deadline for PK3-8th 

Wednesday, March 3: PTSA meeting, 6 p.m.

Friday, March 5: No school; parent-teacher conferences

April 12-16: Spring break, no school