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Baltimore’s all-virtual school approach seems reasonable right now | READER COMMENTARY

Torie Townsend, a school social worker, distributes a backpack with school supplies to a parent in their car at Pine Grove Middle School on the first official day of school in Baltimore County. September 8, 2020
Torie Townsend, a school social worker, distributes a backpack with school supplies to a parent in their car at Pine Grove Middle School on the first official day of school in Baltimore County. September 8, 2020 (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun)

To be completely honest, I wanted my kids to be in the classroom right now and not online. When surveyed by Baltimore City Public Schools, I voted for 100% in-person instruction, not because I believe COVID-19 is “fake news'” or because I don’t care about my kids or the school community. I just happen to believe that our culture is far too risk averse, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Even if it’s not my first choice, the city schools' decision to use an all-virtual model looks pretty reasonable — especially now that some other school districts around the nation have had some difficulties with in-person learning (“Students return — virtually — to classrooms around the Baltimore region,” Sept. 8).

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Baltimore is closely monitored and critiqued all the time by those in government, the media and lots of folks who don’t live here. At times, it feels like outsiders relish our failures. It is only right that credit is given when credit is due. Halfway through the first day of school for my two sons, and I was on my way to the coffee shop because I was not needed at our home. Things went incredibly smoothly. Will there be problems ahead? Sure. Will everything go perfectly? Probably not. BCPS and CEO Sonja Santelises deserve a ton of credit for what they’ve accomplished though. The decision to go all-virtual was made early and communicated well. A way forward was mapped and a specific timeline was given. The preparation was thorough and the communication robust. The teachers seem well prepared and ready to engage students.

This year has not gone as planned to say the least and institutions are faced with impossible situations every day. While I sincerely hope that my kids' teachers and administrators are doing everything humanly possible to get back into the classroom, if virtual learning is the best we can do for now, I’m very happy that my children are students in the Baltimore City Public School system.

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Mike Jacobson, Baltimore

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