Community Service Requirement Reduced For Most Grades
D.C. education agencies last month reduced the number of community service hours required for graduation from District public schools.
According to the new policy, current seniors must complete a minimum of 12 community service hours by graduation, current juniors must complete at least 50 hours and current sophomores must complete at least 75 hours.
Previously, all students were required to complete 100 hours for graduation. Current freshmen and classes thereafter will have to fulfill the full 100-hour requirement.
OSSE initiated the requirement change “to account for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” State Superintendent of Education Christina Grant said in an interview.
The Council had eliminated the requirement for the past three graduating classes of seniors during the pandemic. Dr. Grant said the policy was an effort to “implement a staggered approach before returning to the full 100-hour [requirement].”
Junior Hugo Rosen said that he feels “really good” about the decision. “Now I have more time in the summer and don't have to do as much community service,” he said.
Junior Vivien Dobrescu was similarly enthusiastic about the new policy, saying she thought the reduction was reasonable “because not a lot of people have that many opportunities due to the pandemic.”
Sophomore Sophie Schell disagreed, saying COVID’s impact on underclassmen’s ability to complete service hours has been limited. “Given the fact that sophomores have been in person for all of their high experience, I don’t think it's necessary for the community service requirements to be lowered,” she said.
Senior Sophia Desai, who had already met the 100-hour requirement, said that “such a low requirement” wouldn’t help her or other seniors who have completed hours but would instead “dissuade students from completing more hours.”
Sophomore Augusta Kankel said she didn’t think the reduction for her graduating class was necessary but wasn’t unhappy about it. “I do like this new change because there's less pressure,” she said.
The policy change also permanently modified the community service requirement for transfer students, who had been required to complete all 100 hours regardless of the year they entered the city’s schools. As of this year, students will only have to complete 25 hours for every full year they attend D.C. schools, an approach Dr. Grant said would be fairer to those who transfer late in their high school careers.
The new policy also expands the definition of “community service” to “school-directed activities, government-led work, volunteer work with private organizations, regardless of tax status, and community service compelled by court-order,” Dr. Grant said, “providing needed flexibility to students who have had limited opportunities for service.” D.C. previously only recognized community service at nonprofit organizations.