Most students are already involved in virtual instruction.
Frederick, Md (KM) The Frederick County Board of Education on Wednesday discussed a hybrid model for reopening schools. President Brad Young says that involves bringing some students in for two days a week for instruction, with the remaining three days in virtual learning.
“We talked about in this proposed plan starting with bringing in grades pre-K, K,1,2,6 and 9 as a first step,” he says. “And if it worked successfully, following it up four weeks later with some additional grades, and then three weeks later with some additional grades.”
As a way slow the spread of the coronavirus, the School Board agreed to hold virtual classes for the fall semester, where students would take their lessons over a computer. That’s Step One. Step Two would involved the hybrid model where students come in twice a week. Step Three would expand the hybrid model to include students in grades 3, 4, 5, 8 and 12. And Step Four will be a full hybrid model.
Currently, Young says there are some students who are allowed to come to school for in-person instruction. Those are students taking Career and Technology Education, along with students with special needs which cannot be met with virtual learning, and English language learners. Some students in the northern part of the county come to their local public schools for internet access.
In recent months, some states have reopened their schools for all students, but had to close them when more COVID-19 cases developed. Young says he wants to avoid that. “I think it would be less beneficial for students to have ’em in virtual, bring ’em back in, and then send ’em back virtual and then bring ’em back in. Somebody referred to that as the clamshell affect. I think that certainly would have negative connotations to it. So we don’t want to rush things,” he say.
If the students are brought back, Young says there would have to be some safety protocols implemented, such as requiring students to wear masks, and practice social distancing.
The Maryland State Department of Education is requiring school districts around the state to review their reopening plans by the end of the first academic quarter which is November 6th.
The state is pressuring school districts to reopen their classrooms for in-person instruction. But Young says Frederick County will not be easily swayed. “This local board is not going to fall to political pressures either way. We are going to do what we think is in best the interests in our students and our staff. And that’s how we’re going end up moving forward in Frederick County,” he says.
The Board of Ed is expected to continue discussing these issues, including the various models of reopening schools, at its meeting on October 7th.
“Under all these models, for those who feel uncomfortable coming back, or sending their students back, there still would be a virtual model where you could elect to say ‘even though you’re sending students back, I want to stay all virtual because we don’t feel safe going back yet,'” Young says.
By Kevin McManus