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Draft of Carroll County schools reopening plan expected at Wednesday meeting

Carroll countians have been eager for a more specific look at what the back-to-school season will look like for the 2020-21 school year, and on Wednesday Carroll County Public Schools plans to release a draft of its plan for the fall.

The Board of Education and Central Office staff will discuss the draft at a meeting at 5 p.m. There will be time for the public to comment, either in public at the meeting, in the Board Room at 125 N. Court St. in Westminster, or by emailing comments ahead of time to publicinfo@carrollk12.org.

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The school system plans to send out a detailed survey to the CCPS community the next day, July 16, that will include more specific questions related to the draft plan as well as room for open-ended response, Central Office staff have said.

Committees have been working for months on the plan, and board members have received hundreds of emails, they said, in addition to an early survey of parents, building staff and students.

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Until the state enters Phase III on its “Roadmap to Recovery” plan, schools will not be able to return to full-time, full-capacity school weeks. Central Office staff working on plans have had to plan simultaneously for several possibilities, depending on what state restrictions and federal guidelines look like in September.

In the current phase of reopening the state, schools could either be a hybrid model of in-person classes some days of the week or a full distance-learning model. Central Office staff have said that there has been work this summer to improve distance learning from what it was when schools had to pivot quickly in March.

At a recent public meeting, several parents spoke in favor of a return to schools for five days a week, citing the loss of learning and inequality of distance learning, as well as the social and emotional benefits of face-to-face learning. The Carroll County Education Association said that many teachers and staff who work in the classroom are “very uncomfortable or uncomfortable” returning to a full reopen, based on a survey of their members.

School systems across the state are addressing the question of what “back-to-school” looks like differently. All systems must present their plans to the Maryland State Department of Education for approval by mid-August.

In Montgomery County, for example, the school system is planning to resume distance learning at the beginning of the semester. Many others are considering three options, much like CCPS, as they finalize their plans.

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