The Board’s President says schools are as ready as possible.
Frederick, Md (KM) Frederick County Public Schools will be opening as scheduled on Monday, August 31st for virtual learning. That’s according to a statement issued by the Board of Education on Wednesday. “We had one Board member that stepped out and opened up a can of worms in the public about asking for us to delay the start of the school year,” said School Board President Brad Young. “And we’ve been receiving many e-mails in regard to that. And so we felt the Board needed to put out a statement where we stood, and the school year will be starting on Monday as planned.”
That “one board member” is Liz Barrett, who says she has been raising questions to the Superintendent and School Board leaders “for months.” In an e-mail to WFMD News, Barrett said “there are significant concerns with the chaotic communication to staff and teachers and families.” She continued: “There are large unanswered questions and apparent inconsistencies in class time, grading plans and access to live teaching; some families have not received schedules or needed technology.”
Young responded: “I want to say we’re as ready as we can be. This is a once-in-a-lifetime situation. We’ve never had to start with a full virtual school before. So to expect everything and perfect is unreasonable.”
On August 5th, the Board of Education agreed to virtual instruction for the fall of 2020 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Barrett says she voted in favor of that in anticipation that a plan would be ready by August 31st. “Teachers returned to work this week and within the first two days, I heard from dozens of them as well as from families. That’s why I requested the delay,” Barrett said in her statement.
But Young said teachers have been trained on how to use the technology for virtual instruction. “So we have all the confidence in our teachers that if they get started, they can figure out what the best delivery method is; make sure they’re delivering the content to their students, and that they’re receiving it; and that we can move forward,” he says. “If we sat and wait for the perfect time when we thought everybody was 100% ready to go, it’s my opinion it wouldn’t happen.”
“It’s an abdication of leadership to ask people ‘to make things work’ when there have been months to create workable plans, processes and communication,” Barrett said in her statement.
She continuing saying in her statement “I believe in our teachers and staff, but I also believe they need the tools, resources an supports to do their jobs.”
Young says there’s no chance the School Board will meet before Monday, August 31st and decide to delay classes. “The Board put out the statement today and the intent is start school on the 31st. Our next Board meeting is not scheduled until September,” he said.
By Kevin McManus