TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County Public Schools plans to begin the 2020-21 school year with virtual education, following approval secured Tuesday night from the Board of Education of Baltimore County.
Following schedules designed by their schools, students will engage in live, virtual instruction with their teachers four days each week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday), for 2 – 3.5 hours per day. In addition, all students will have up to three hours of independent work five days each week, and, on Wednesdays, teachers will offer small group instruction.
The amount of live instruction students will receive will vary based upon grade level, effective models for online instruction, and course complexity and enrollment. Moreover, each school will provide extended learning opportunities to occur either before school, after school, and/or on weekends.
“We would like nothing more than to open our school buildings and welcome our students and staff back in,” said BCPS Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams, “but the health risks, the continued unknowns about COVID-19, and the logistical challenges to opening safely make that an impossibility at this time. We want students, parents, caregivers, and the community to know we have been working diligently to ensure that virtual instruction in the fall will be rigorous and engaging. We are working to offer our students and families the full range of what they have come to expect from our schools – challenging instruction, a network of social-emotional supports, a sense of community, and access to relevant resources.”
During the fall semester, student attendance will be recorded daily, and teachers will follow traditional grading and reporting procedures for student work and assignments. Special education and related services will be provided in accordance with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations.
All students will be encouraged to take movement, lunch, and screen breaks and can request individual support from school counselors. Elementary students will receive instruction in art, music, library, and physical education. Extra-curricular activities may continue virtually, if possible, as well as sports conditioning.
As it did this spring and summer, BCPS will provide free breakfast and lunch meals for students to pick up in their communities. Exact locations and times will be announced closer to the beginning of the school year. Parents/caregivers will be able to access resources and information through their children’s schools as well as forthcoming updates to BCPS Parent University.
From December 1-18, BCPS will survey families regarding their interest in continuing virtual learning or opting into hybrid instruction (in-person and virtual learning) for the remainder of the school year. If it is safe to do so, BCPS will implement a hybrid instructional model from February – June 2021, in addition to continuing to offer full-time virtual learning.
Additional details about BCPS plans for the school year will be released as soon as they are finalized.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that schools reopen this fall with students “physically present” in their classrooms, as they say the negative impacts are already being shown in children since schools closed earlier this year.