BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Public Schools officials said Wednesday they will bring a limited amount of students back to school buildings in November.
The system said specifically it will provide “in-person opportunities to more groups of prioritized students at 25 schools through the remainder of the first semester.”
These groups include students with disabilities, early learners, English learners, students seen less than 20 percent of the time in virtual classrooms, homeless students, transition grades (6th and 9th) and career and technical education.
“The continued focus for us is how do we provide families who have said that distance learning is not working for their students, homeless families and others, how do we provide them, to provide them with additional options,” Schools Superintendent Sonja Santelises said.
The majority of students will remain virtual, and all families will continue to have a virtual option.
She stressed no student as of now will be required to move to in-person learning.
Santelises said the system is also committing additional dollars to make sure school buildings are ready to give staff the PPE they need, changing air filters and other safety conditions.
She added not every single student will have this opportunity to come back, but they are working on who needs to come back the most.
The school system has been offering in-person learning opportunities with learning centers where students can safely access their virtual learning and sites offering in-person instruction to some of our special education students and English language learners.
They will require face masks for staff and students as well as daily health screening and temperature checks, daily cleaning and disinfecting, and small class sizes to facilitate social distancing.
Read the full letter to City Schools families here.
They will hold a town hall on Thursday to answer questions about the plan for families and students.
The Baltimore Teachers Union blasted the announcement, saying its members learned of the plans at the same time as the public:
“The district’s decision to release this important news in such an incomplete fashion creates stress and confusion and is indicative of a lack of transparency, respect and care for student and employee safety, as well as the safety of students’ families, and the greater Baltimore community. Over the past several weeks, BTU members have sent hundreds of emails to the school board and Central Office leadership asking questions about safety and sanitation that have gone unanswered. The Board and the district have not addressed a myriad of questions about health accommodations, safety, and the effectiveness of an unstable and under-resourced in-person learning environment.”
The union also said the plans lack substance and credibility.
In Baltimore County, meanwhile, a meeting Tuesday night on whether to expand reopening procedures stretched into early Wednesday morning. The decision remained the same: only students with special needs will return to in-person learning in November, with the rest of the student body waiting to return until the second semester.
Anne Arundel County will begin hybrid learning in mid-November. Families need to let the district know which learning option their children will take part in by Monday.
For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.