• The students were asked to pretend they were digging mass graves and shooting victims: Report
  • A mother told Fox 5 that her child was asked to pretend to experience death in a gas chamber
  • The school librarian for Watkins Elementary denied the lesson involved Holocaust re-enactment

A D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) staffer has reportedly been placed on leave after allegedly asking third-grade students to re-enact Holocaust events such as digging their graves and acting out shooting scenes. The DCPS said it is investigating the report.

In a Washington Post report, it was revealed that a staff member of the Watkins Elementary School asked students to pretend that they were digging ditches to serve as mass graves. The students were also reportedly asked to act out that they were shooting victims.

A parent told the Post that the staff member also said that Germans during the Holocaust were triggered by the belief that “Jews ruined Christmas.”

Speaking with Fox 5, a mother of a student in the class said that “there was a lot of sobbing and crying and distress” after the child’s father picked up the student from school. The mother said her child was told by the librarian who gave the lesson to pretend that the child was choking and dying in a gas chamber as other students pretended to dig their own graves.

“Children are having nightmares and generally having a very hard time.” The mother, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her child’s privacy, added that the student who was asked to play Nazi leader Adolf Hitler is currently “not doing well at all.”

The mother further revealed that the librarian in question told the students not to inform their parents about the incident.

The librarian at Watkins Elementary School told the outlet that “somebody’s misquoting what happened in the library that day.” The librarian denied reports that the lesson involved Holocaust scene re-enactments but she did not provide an answer when asked repeatedly if Holocaust was discussed in the class. The DCPS said the involved staff member is now on leave.

“Last week, we received a report of a classroom of students receiving a lesson that including portraying different perspectives of the Holocaust. Students should never be tasked with acting out any atrocity, especially genocide and war,” the school district said in a statement to The Hill, adding that “there were allegations of a staff member using hate speech during the lesson, which is unacceptable and not tolerated at any of our schools.”

Watkins Elementary School Principal Mscott Berkowitz said the lesson “was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident,” WTOP News reported. Berkowitz further revealed that the incident has been reported to the district’s Central Equity Response Team.

More than 52,000 Jews were detained in a dozen camps in Cyprus, according to Israel's Holocaust memorial and education centre
More than 52,000 Jews were detained in a dozen camps in Cyprus, according to Israel's Holocaust memorial and education centre AFP / Christina ASSI