Harford County Public Schools sent a survey to parents Tuesday evening to gauge interest on how many students might be coming to Learning Support Centers set up at each school in the fall.
With the Harford school system’s announcement last week that all learning would be virtual for the first half of the 2020-21 school year, it also proposed offering a limited number of seats in all 54 school buildings for students who would need a safe space to access virtual instruction, as well as reliable Internet access.
Students at the Learning Support Centers would be supervised by an HCPS employee, although that person would not be the children’s classroom teachers. Instruction at the support centers would still be done remotely. Superintendent Sean Bulson previously described employees supervising the centers as more of a “proctor.”
Tuesday’s “Parent Intentions Form” asks whether parents plan if they plan to use the Learning Support Centers for their children, and if so, how many of their children would be attending, how many days a week would they be attending, and whether those students would need bus transportation, meals, and before or after care.
“HCPS is gathering more information about the 2020-2021 school year and would like to hear from you to better understand your needs and concerns as we return to school in the fall,” according to a letter accompanying a link to the survey, which can also be found on the HCPS website.
Responses to the Parent Intentions Form are requested by next Tuesday, July 28.
Transportation and meals will be available for all students attending the Learning Support Centers who need it. Meal distribution sites will still be located throughout the county for students who do not attend the Learning Support Centers, but still need access to meals.
“Before and after care options may be available. More information about the schedule for our Learning Support Centers and the virtual day will be shared as soon as it is available,” according to the letter.
The support centers would follow the published 2020-21 school calendar regarding days it is open, but the hours of operation might differ from traditional school hours, the letter states.
At a Town Hall meeting last week, school system officials said they were working to make an average, virtual day of instruction resemble in-person schooling as much as possible, although plenty of details still needed to be ironed out before the final plan goes before the Board of Education in August. A finalized plan must be sent to the state no later than Aug. 14.
Regardless of whether students attend Learning Support Centers or receive virtual instruction from home, HCPS stated it will provide Chromebooks to all students in kindergarten through eighth-grade and Windows-based laptops for all high school students. All teachers will also received a Windows-based laptop.
In an effort to provide more reliable Internet access in under-served areas, the school system is also conducting trials of cellular hotspots in those parts of the county.
Officials have also promised a more “dramatic upgrades” to the curriculum and professional development to ensure virtual instruction is more interactive and engaging than during the spring.
“We’re working diligently to prepare robust curricula and daily learning schedules for live virtual instruction between teachers and students, and independent learning,” Bulson said during last Thursday’s Town Hall meeting.
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Social distancing guidelines and face coverings will be required in Learning Support Centers in accordance with current state and local health department guidance.