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Carroll County schools officials surveying families in case coronavirus-related closure stretches longer

Carroll County Public Schools sent an email to families Thursday asking for feedback to prepare in case the school closures, initially set at two weeks in response to the coronavirus, stretch longer — something the superintendent is predicting.

The “Computer Internet Survey” email to parents Thursday read, “We have anticipated there could be changes to the duration of time schools could stay closed. We have been working around the clock to best prepare for the possibility of distance learning for a longer duration of time.”

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Maryland’s top education official ordered all public schools to close for two weeks beginning March 16 in response to the spreading coronavirus known by the disease it causes, COVID-19.

CCPS pledged to communicate with families about any plans to continue the semester remotely. The survey asks what internet access and devices students have available at home.

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“This will allow us to finalize resources and supports where access or a device is not available to a student,” the email states.

Superintendent Steve Lockard said in an interview that CCPS is awaiting a decision from the state, but “If you just ask me,” he believes the closure will be extended.

Lockard said that CCPS can’t wait for an initial announcement to plan and prepare for virtual learning and they have been doing so steadily over the past few weeks. It’s been a “significant lift” for the system to achieve, but helped by the fact that CCPS was already working toward expanding virtual learning.

It was “an area in the system that needed to grow," but in the case of the pandemic, the pace “exponentially increases,” he said.

The survey was first sent out by email Thursday afternoon and will be sent again the next day, Lockard said. The vast majority of CCPS families have access to email, he said. School principals will likely start reaching out by phone on March 24 to families who haven’t responded by then.

In the first two hours after the survey was sent, CCPS received about 10,000 responses, Lockard said. CCPS has about 25,000 students in the system, and many of those may be siblings who received one survey for the household.

During the closure, the school system has offered meals for all 18 and younger, regardless of whether they are enrolled in CCPS.

The Emergency Meal Distribution program now offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. It operates Monday through Friday, and children must be present to receive the meals.

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