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City Schools Delay Next Phase Of Return To In-Person Classes


Baltimore City Public Schools announced Wednesday a two-week delay of the next phase of its partial reopening plans. Officials said it will allow them more time to prepare for the in-person return of students; their decision comes after some students and the Baltimore Teachers Union protested the district’s plans.


Instead of returning in mid-February, students in kindergarten through second grade may return March 1. Third, fourth, fifth and ninth graders may return March 15. High school seniors may return April 12. The rest of the system’s reopening plans will be announced in March.


The return to classrooms is optional; parents may choose to have their children continue with online learning rather than re-enter school buildings.


In a statement, the school system said the “prudent decision” to delay in-person classes will give administrators more time to address parent and teacher questions, allow more teachers to be vaccinated and launch a program to test people with no symptoms. 


The district also will spend the extra time to identify areas where more resources are needed. Later this week, it will launch a dashboard that displays changes to ventilation systems at schools. 


The system reopened classrooms for some of its most vulnerable students earlier this school year, including those who speak English as a second language and those who missed a significant portion of their online classes.


The Baltimore Teachers Union has vehemently opposed reopening. 


They’ve asked administrators to refrain from expanding in-person learning until all school employees have been fully vaccinated, all ventilation upgrade work is complete and a “robust, reliable and proactive” testing program for staff and students -- symptomatic and asymptomatic alike -- has been developed. 


The union and supporters will hold a car caravan protest Wednesday evening to end outside district headquarters on North Avenue.

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.