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Baltimore County public schools to expand in-person instruction to four days for some students

Baltimore County public schools will expand the option for in-person instruction to four days per week for some students beginning May 10.

System administrators announced the plan Friday, stating in a letter to staff the option will be available for students in elementary schools and the district’s four separate day schools as well as students receiving special education services outside of a general education setting. All students with individualized education programs or a 504 Plan in grades 6 through 12 will also have the option to learn in-person four days per week beginning May 17.

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Wednesdays will remain reserved for students to complete work on their own time from home.

Baltimore County school system began bringing students back to schools in March after buildings were closed for nearly a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Administrators split students into two cohorts, allowing them to attend school for two days per week, as a mitigation measure.

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Some parents have pushed the Baltimore County school board in recent weeks to expand in-person learning to five days a week. At the same time, a number of educators have expressed concerns about returning large numbers of students to buildings too quickly.

Cindy Sexton, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, said union members knew the expansion of in-person learning was a possibility.

“Some members are fine with it and some are not, just as it’s been all year with regards to reopening,” Sexton said. “It puts a lot more onus on our members to make sure mitigation strategies are followed.”

Principals have also been expecting this move from the school system, said Tom DeHart, executive director of the Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees, the bargaining unit representing school principals and other administrators.

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“Our members are okay with that,” DeHart said of the announcement Friday.

Still, some teachers and administrators are concerned that the school system is continuing to increase the number of students in buildings at a time when COVID-19 cases are also on the rise in the region.

Maryland’s seven-day case rate was almost 165 infections per 100,000 people, above the national rate of about 145, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

School leaders have cautioned that plans could change the scheduled timeline for more in-person school days as the pandemic continues.

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