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Plan Released For Baltimore County Students To Return To Classrooms

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Some Baltimore County students will return to classrooms two days a week, starting the week of March 1. The other three days the students will continue online learning from home. That’s according to a reopening plan released Monday by the school system.

“We have heard loud and clear that some families are ready for in-person learning,” Superintendent Darryl Williams said in a statement posted on the BCPS website.

“While school operations will look different as we implement the CDC’s recommended practices for health and safety, I look forward to greeting students and staff as they return,” he wrote. “I also commend staff across the organization for their hard work to prepare for reopening, despite not only the challenges of COVID-19, but also the ongoing and long-term effects of the ransomware attack on our systems.”

According to the reopening plan, students in preschool through the second grade will have the option to return the week of March 1. The students who attend the county’s four separate schools for the disabled can return as well.

School officials have said that those students need to return first because they are most in need of in-person learning.

More students will be phased in throughout March. All grades are back in classrooms the week of April 6.

Families can choose to have their children continue learning virtually full time.

There are around 111,000 students in the county school system and approximately 18,000 employees.

Most employees will return to schools and offices February 16.

Cindy Sexton, the president of TABCO, the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, said they will be checking school buildings to make sure safety guidelines are being met.

"We knew that at some point in time we were always going to go back to school," Sexton said. "We just want to make sure again that it is a safe environment for the staff and the students."

Baltimore County school buildings have been closed since last March, when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation. School officials tried to reopen in November but abandoned those plans when the number of COVID cases in Baltimore County rose to unacceptable levels.

State School Superintendent Karen Salmon and Governor Larry Hogan have demanded local school systems begin to bring students back by March 1.

At last week’s school board meeting, board member Kathleen Causey wanted to know if Williams saw that as an order.

“You agree the state superintendent has the authority to give us a March 1 deadline?”  Causey asked.

“It’s my understanding she has that authority to give us a March 1 deadline,” Williams responded.

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