Here’s what we know, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, about plans to return students to the classroom:
Anne Arundel County Public Schools told teachers and school staff Feb. 2 that they must return to school buildings Feb. 17, and work from there four days a week, with Wednesday at home and online so schools can be cleaned.
The system has not yet said when secondary and elementary students can return for hybrid learning. In letters to teachers, administrators wrote that students will return to developmental centers and the Center for Applied Technology North on Feb. 11, and to CAT South on Feb. 18.
The school system has not yet provided an opportunity for teachers to be vaccinated. Vaccinations for teachers will begin next week, County Health Officer Nilesh Kalyanaraman said Feb. 1, dependent on the availability of vaccines.
There is partial immunity two weeks after the first dose of the vaccine, and it is fully effective after the second dose, Health Department spokeswoman Elin Jones said.
That means even if vaccinated as promised next week, teachers would not be able to get even partial immunity from the vaccine before returning Feb. 17.
Baltimore City school officials will reopen all city schools at every grade level by April 19, continuing the gradual expansion of in-person instruction that began last year.
Middle school and prekindergarten students can return on April 12 and 10th and 11th graders can return as early as April 19, school officials announced March 9.
The school system began inviting students back into schools as early as last September, although the schools weren’t staffed by teachers but proctors who oversaw the students while they learned on their laptops.
On March 1, about 5,400 students in kindergarten through second grade, or nearly a third of the students who are enrolled in those grades, returned to classrooms throughout the school system, according to CEO Sonja Santelises.
School officials announced previously that students in third through fifth grades and ninth grade will begin on Monday, March 15. Seniors will begin on Monday, April 12. In the next wave of reopening, about 11,000 students, or 26% of the enrollment in those grades will be in school, according to Santelises.
The city school system is providing weekly testing of all staff and students, even those without any symptoms of COVID-19, and all of the elementary and middle school ventilation systems have been upgraded. The high school buildings will be completed before the buildings reopen, Santelises said.
Baltimore County public school officials are preparing to bring students back to school buildings for the first time in nearly a year, with employees expected to return to buildings by Feb. 16, followed by students March 1.
Officials released the timeline Feb. 1 for rolling out a hybrid learning model of both in-person and online instruction for several categories of students. The plan would bring children back to schools for the first time since last March, when the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the region. Parents will have a choice of whether to send their children back or to keep them at home and continue their learning online.
Children in preschool through second grade, as well as students enrolled in special education programs at the system’s four separate day schools, may return to schools March 1, according to the plan.
Students in career and technical education programs and students who receive special education services in general education settings may return to school March 15.
Students in sixth through ninth grades may return March 22, followed by the remaining students April 6.
The Carroll County Board of Education voted Feb. 24 to send an updated return-to-school plan that would double the amount of in-person learning for most students to the state’s education department for approval, with the student board member abstaining.
The Carroll County Public Schools plan to begin returning students to school buildings at least four days per week, recognizing that previous levels of social distancing likely won’t be possible, was discussed Wednesday night at an “updates” school board meeting. The board had voted Feb. 10 to allow students to return to in-person learning at least four days a week by March 22.
Using a phased-in approach, the plan is to allow Gateway and Crossroads students to return full time on March 1, elementary students to return four days a week on March 15 and all other schools, including the Career and Technology Center, to return March 22. Special education students have already begun phasing in this week. Elementary students will be asynchronous March 11 and 12 to give time for furniture to be adjusted. And secondary students will be asynchronous March 18 and 19.
Full virtual learning will still be an option and parents will be surveyed to see how many will participate in in-person learning.
The board also announced at the end of the meeting that next school year, the plan is for all schools to be open five days each week from the first day of school on Sept. 8, for those who choose to attend.
CCPS has been in hybrid mode since Jan. 7, allowing most students to have in-person learning twice a week.
March 19 is the target date to have elementary schoolers in buildings four days a week, and April 7 is the target date for middle and high school students. Middle and high school students are scheduled to return once a week starting the week of March 15.
“We feel confident we can meet these target dates if we don’t experience high rates of quarantines, isolations, or outbreaks in our schools. If a change to this schedule is necessary, we will communicate that with you as soon as possible,” the school system stated March 1.
The Continuity of Learning plan on the school system’s website was updated to reflect the updated CDC guidelines that support additional days for students in the schools as well as continued guidance to monitor the COVID-19 metrics, according to the message.
Students will likely see a return to full-time, in-person learning for the start of the 2021-22 school year, so long as COVID-19 metrics continue their current drop, although parents could still opt for their children to learn virtually.
“Barring any major change, we are developing a plan for what would, essentially, be five days of in-person instruction at the majority of our schools,” Superintendent Sean Bulson said during a Board of Education meeting Feb. 22.
Fifty-three out of 54 schools would see students return full-time when the 2021-22 school year begins in early September, with the Alternative Education Program at the Center for Educational Opportunity in Aberdeen would then serve as a hub for students who still opt for virtual learning.
Howard County students who want to return to school buildings will be able to starting in March or April.
The Howard County Board of Education unanimously approved a hybrid learning model Jan. 26 that will begin rolling out March 1, with all students who want to be in school buildings returning by April 12.
The return to systemwide in-person learning will come almost exactly a year after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered school buildings last March. The district’s 56,000 students have been learning online since last April.
The approval of a hybrid model is a change of course for the school board, which had voted in November to keep kids in virtual learning through at least mid-April. However, the board was spurred to action following Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement on Jan. 21 that he would explore consequences for school systems that didn’t get students back in classrooms by March 1.
On Feb. 16, hundreds of Howard County educators participated in a drive-in rally to protest the school system’s hybrid learning plan.
Chief Executive Officer Monica Goldson announced Feb. 17 plans to reopen Prince George’s County Public Schools for in-person hybrid learning starting in April.
Families will have the opportunity to continue distance learning through the end of the school year. The school system will distribute a survey through schools to all families so they can select to either continue virtual learning for the remainder of the school year or begin hybrid instruction two days a week starting in April until the end of the school year, a news release said.
Families will have until Sunday, Feb. 28, to complete the survey.
The hybrid learning model will include staggered scheduling with students divided into two groups for in-person instruction on back-to-back days with appropriate social distancing in classrooms and throughout the school building. The remaining three days will be spent in online learning sessions each week, according to the release.
In March, the school system will welcome all educators back into classrooms ahead of students and return central office staff to their assigned work locations. On April 8, Phase 1 instruction will begin with a two-day hybrid learning schedule for all special education students in kindergarten through 12th grade and for students in prekindergarten through sixth grade and 12th grade. On April 15, Phase 2 instruction will begin for all remaining seventh through 11th graders, the release said.
The school system’s current cleaning protocols require the PGCPS Environmental Team to respond with a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of any facilities or areas within 24 hours of a known case of COVID-19.
Air filters in all schools and office buildings were upgraded to the CDC recommendations.
Baltimore Sun Media reporters Liz Bowie, Daniel Oyefusi, Donavan Conaway, Jacob Calvin Meyer, Kristen Griffith, David Anderson, S. Wayne Carter Jr., Hallie Miller, Taylor DeVille, Alison Knezevich, Selene San Felice and Lillian Reed contributed to this article.
A previous version of this article included incorrect information about Baltimore County sports. The school system has not made a decision on whether to cancel the season.