GLEN BURNIE, Md. (WJZ) — After a back and forth discussion, Anne Arundel County school board members voted Wednesday in favor of a hybrid model reopening plan.
They weighed two options. The first, a hybrid model; the second, a continuation of virtual learning with a focus on bringing back students with special needs.
In a 5-to-3 vote, the hybrid option was adopted.
“Many of our youngest learners just cannot thrive in this environment and need that in-person interaction and support from their teachers,” a school board member said.
Elementary school students in ECI and prekindergarten through second grade will be the first to return to classrooms in a hybrid setting under a timeline adopted by the board of education.
The action approved by the board means that students in ECI and Pre-K through second grade will begin hybrid classes on Monday, November 16, attending on either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday and working virtually on other days.
All students and teachers will work virtually on Wednesdays to allow for thorough cleaning of school buildings.
On Monday, November 30, students in grades 3 through 5 will return in a hybrid format, operating under the same guidelines as students in ECI and prekindergarten through second grade.
Earlier in the day, teachers around Anne Arundel County lined up outside school headquarters with horns honking and a message to send.
“We want safe schools for our community to stay safe,” teacher Ida Heck said.
“There’s a lot of teachers that feel like we’re just not being heard,” teacher Catelynn Spriggs said.
Spriggs is a 6th-grade teacher at Arundel Middle School and one of the hundreds of teachers to take part in Wednesday’s car caravan ahead of the school board meeting.
“A lot of these decisions are being made by people who are not in the classroom, that are not operating the normal day to day things that take place to run a school,” she said.
Adam Wyndham, a parent of a child with special needs, said he understands teacher concerns but would like to find a way to bring his daughter back into the classroom, at least part-time.
“I do believe that we can find a way to bring our special needs students, which are already small classes to begin with, in while we work out all of our issues for the greater population,” he said.
Families will have the option of whether to have students take part in the hybrid format or remain as virtual learners for either the semester or the full year.
Families must indicate their preference by Thursday, October 15. Information on that selection process will be provided to parents by Friday, October 9.
The school board also said it reserves the right to adjust its plans according to current circumstances.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools said it will continue to work with the Department of Health and closely monitor the health data to make further decisions on middle school and high school students, with the goal of beginning to bring those students into buildings beginning in mid-December.
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.