27 Schools Reopen Across Baltimore City For Vulnerable Students | WYPR

27 Schools Reopen Across Baltimore City For Vulnerable Students

Nov 16, 2020

The Baltimore City Public Schools District administrative building on North Avenue.
Credit LOWELL LARSON/FLICKR

About 1,200 Baltimore City students are set to re-enter the classrooms of 27 schools Monday morning for the first time last spring when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The partial re-opening prioritizes the district’s most vulnerable students, including students experiencing homelessness, students with disabilities, English language learners and those who have been offline for at least 20% of remote classes. 

The district also invited back sixth and ninth graders — students in their first years of middle school and high school — as well as students in career technology or trade classes.  

The full list of reopened schools can be found here.

The partial re-opening is a scaled back version of a plan that originally called for 44 schools to welcome students back; last week, administrators decided to reduce the number of schools as  coronavirus cases shot up in the city and state.

In a news conference announcing the decision, Schools CEO Sonja Santelises stuck to the reason for reopening she’s put forth since the summer: reopening is vital for vulnerable students who have struggled with online learning. 

“We'll continue to prioritize those groups coming back,” Santelises said. “We just will not be doing it at the scale that we originally thought.” 

Santelises made the decision with input from several healthcare experts, including Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. 

The Baltimore Teachers Union has opposed reopening since the spring, arguing that it’s too risky for students, staff and families. At a news conference last Thursday, BTU president  Diamonté Brown said that no one wants to be back in the classroom more than educators, but that any lives lost from potential COVID-19 spread is too great a risk. 

“Safety has to be the priority in the middle of a deadly global pandemic,” Brown said. “Every worker has a right to a safe workplace. Every child has a right to a safe classroom.”