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Schools reopening: Here’s how Maryland jurisdictions are planning for the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic

Maryland’s state schools superintendent announced on July 22 that schools should set a goal of returning students to classrooms by the end of the year, but allowed districts to make their own decision on virtual versus in-person instruction when fall classes begin.

School systems can choose to implement a more restrictive recovery plan than the state’s, but the driving goal should be returning students to in-person instruction, Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said.

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School systems have until Aug. 14 to develop and submit education and recovery plans to the Maryland State Board of Education for review.

Here’s what the school systems are planning:

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Anne Arundel

Online learning for Anne Arundel County public schools this fall will look different from the way it did when schools first closed in the spring — with four days of real-time online classes with a fifth set aside for digital small groups and one-on-one teaching.

The four days of online instruction would include three to four hours of learning each day and the fifth will act as a more individualized support day and possible evening tutoring sessions.

The school system announced July 20 that its first semester would be entirely online. Superintendent George Arlotto said there’s a chance the school system could enter a hybrid model later in the 2020 to 2021 school year as he outlined a plan for online learning at July 22nd’s Board of Education meeting.

Teachers will be able to return to the negotiated work week with time built in for meetings with administration and other teachers, as well as professional development.

Baltimore City

Schools CEO Sonja Santelises said the system will begin the school year virtually, and delay the start of in-person teaching until later in the fall. She said the district will provide an update on the plans for school no later than Oct. 16.

“We were determined that our plan be data-based, both in terms of COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact of distance learning on our most vulnerable students — while avoiding any influence from attempts to politicize this situation,” she said in a statement.

Santelises is also asking the school board to push back the first day of school to the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend to allow staff more time for training.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County schools will reopen virtually for the fall semester.

The Baltimore County Board of Education voted July 21 to delay a return to school buildings until the semester ends Jan. 29, citing public safety concerns and an anticipated spike in coronavirus cases in the fall, based on health expert models.

Students will begin school remotely Tuesday, Sept. 8, and will continue virtual learning until the end of January, depending on public health conditions at that time.

Teachers will give live instruction to students virtually every day, except for Wednesdays, for a duration of two to 3½ hours, with up to three hours of independent work daily.

Wednesdays will be used by teachers to engage with students one-on-one, plan and instruct asynchronous lessons.

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Calvert County

Calvert County submitted a reopening plan with two options for students, either hybrid learning or all online.

The hybrid program would have two different groups head into school for two days a week and then three days with distance learning. The schedule allows for teachers to have a professional development day and an opportunity for school cleaning.

The other option is all online learning with asynchronous and synchronous learning. Parents must make the decision by the start of August. The plan was presented to the school board Thursday.

Carroll

The Carroll County Board of Education voted unanimously July 29, after more than 5½ hours of deliberation, to begin the 2020-21 school year virtually.

The school system plans to reevaluate whether to move to another model by the Oct. 14 board meeting.

If CCPS decides to move to a hybrid model at that time, staff believe they could be ready for the start of a new academic quarter in early November.

In the meantime, some small groups such as special education students and career and technology education students will begin to receive some in-person education.

Cecil

School will begin virtually Sept. 1. One week later, face-to-face instruction will be available “for small groups of students in each school based on the needs of children.”

One month of the small-group model will help the district determine how it can expand incrementally, the school systThe Carroll County Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday night, after more than 5 1/2 hours of deliberation, to begin the 2020-21 school year virtually.

The school system plans to re-evaluate whether to move into another model by the Oct. 14 board meeting.

If CCPS decides to move to a hybrid model at that time, staff believes they could be ready for the start of a new academic quarter in early November.

In the meantime, some small groups such as special education students and career and technology education students will begin to receive some in-person education.em said.

Virtual classes will remain available even as the district expands.

Frederick

The district will be fully virtual for the Aug. 31 start of the school year. All athletics and extracurricular activities are suspended as well.

A full grading system will be implemented and teachers and school counselors, online learning mentors will also support students, offering designated office hours, the district said.

Harford

Harford County Public Schools’ students will be taught virtually for the first two quarters of the 2020-2021 school year. The school system will also offer “Learning Support Centers” at schools where a limited number of students will have internet access and supervision by an HCPS employee.

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Bus transportation and meals will be available through the learning centers, where students will be taught by an instructor who is working remotely. The school system will provide Chromebook computers to kindergartners through eighth graders and Windows laptops to ninth through 12th graders who are learning from home. Windows laptops also will be provided to teachers.

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School officials will send a survey to HCPS families next week to determine the level of interest in attending the in-person learning support centers.

Virtual learning will continue through at least the end of the first semester, on Jan. 22. The school system will review conditions and guidance from state and local health departments in November, and consider extending virtual learning into the second half of the school year.

Howard

The school will start the academic year with 100% virtual instruction through at least late January.

The Board of Education approved the plan during its Aug. 6 meeting to have online learning for the first and second quarters of the school year, which ends Jan. 28.

The school system can now submit the document to the Maryland State Department of Education ahead of the Aug. 14 deadline.

Throughout the first five months of the academic year, the school system will develop hybrid and in-person learning models to possibly implement later in the year.

Montgomery

According to a draft guide released by Montgomery County Public Schools officials, the system plans to start the school year entirely online and gradually reintroduce students and faculty back to the buildings.

This virtual-only model will last two to four weeks before the first wave of students enters the building on a rotational basis. The youngest students in elementary, middle and high schools will be phased in first, followed by the older grades. Each grade level is expected to be included an in-person rotation by November.

Students in each grade will also likely be assigned to a group rotation, with Group A going to school on Mondays and Tuesdays and Group B following on Thursdays and Fridays. All students will learn remotely Wednesdays without any live instruction. This way, students will have fewer classmates in the room during classes and a reduced number of peers in the building and on buses overall.

The draft guide is subject to change based on the state’s metrics.

Prince George’s

Prince George’s County schools will ask students to learn from home through at least February to protect the health of the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Public schools CEO Monica Goldson said her administration will reevaluate conditions in December. If it is safe to do so in February, students will have the option of returning part-time and the district will start a staggered schedule where students learn in-person two days and from a distance the other three.

People who want to continue full-time distance learning during the second semester will have that option.

Queen Anne’s County

Queen Anne’s County Schools put together groups to review possible fall options like online-only instruction, in-person instruction or a hybrid model.

For the hybrid model, the school system is considering two separate student groups to spend two days in school and three days with distance learning. The schedule allows for teachers to have a professional development day and an opportunity for school cleaning.

Middle and high school students would continue with distance learning because of scheduling issues. A reopening plan will be submitted to the school board Aug. 5.

Baltimore Sun Media reporters Liz Bowie, Daniel Oyefusi, Jacob Calvin Meyer, Naomi Harris, Catalina Righter, David Anderson, S. Wayne Carter Jr., Wilborn P. Nobles III, Hallie Miller, Taylor DeVille, Alison Knezevich, Rachael Pacella and Lillian Reed contributed to this article.

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