BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ) — Harford County joins the list of school districts that have a plan to bring students back into the classrooms.
Starting the week of March 1, PRE-K through 5th-grade students will have two days a week for hybrid learning.
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Starting the week of March 15, 6th through 12th graders will have one day for hybrid learning.
The hope is that in April, elementary school students will get up to four days of in-person learning.
Chrystie Crawford-Smick is the President of the Harford County Education Association. The organization represents thousands of educators in Harford County.
She said the organization’s membership is split between people who want to return to in-person learning and others who are extremely concerned the buildings will not be safe.
“Things are not going to be normal right now. We have to think of the health and safety, not only of the students but of the educators and the adults in the building,” Crawford-Smick said.
“We want to make sure that all of the steps that are put in place are keeping school doors open and keeping everyone safe,” she added.
Every school district in the region now has plans to bring some students back into schools by March 1.
Carroll County resumed in-person learning in January, but they’ve had some cases of COVID-19 among staff and the students.
In Baltimore County, the phased-in approach will take about five weeks.
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“There are a good number of parents in Baltimore County that do want their students to head back into their classrooms to see their teachers and see their friends in person, but there are also a lot of parents who are opting to have their children remain in virtual instruction,” Charles Herndon, a Baltimore County Public Schools spokesperson, said.
Herndon is urging parents to respond to an online survey that will give the district an idea of how many parents will choose a hybrid option. That survey can be found here.
Baltimore County Public Schools Superintended Dr. Darryl Williams tried to reassure everyone it’s safe returning to in-person learning.
“Our school administrations and their reentry teams received extensive professional learning to support the development of a school-based re-entry plan,” Dr. Williams said.
Over the months, many parents have expressed frustration that students learning virtually are being deprived of the benefits of being in a classroom with teachers and their peers.
“You can’t replace in-school learning,” Baltimore County parent Jeffrey Crawford said. “I don’t think you can.”
While some parents aren’t comfortable making the return just yet, others said their children are suffering and missing out on the value of in-person learning.
“I was hesitant of course, but virtual learning is difficult,” Crawford said. “We have 5, 10,12,13,14,16-year-olds, so I am hesitant, but I feel like they can go back to school part-time.”
For students like Sadie Knott, she said she misses the social aspect more than ever.
“I’m excited to go back and see a bunch of new people,” Knott said.
All students will have the option for in-person learning if parents are hesitant to send their children back to the classroom.
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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.