COVID-19 Updates & Important Messages
INCLEMENT WEATHER UPDATE
Virtual Learning Update
All Students to Return to 100% Virtual Learning the Week of November 9th
November 6th Update
Secondary Transition Information
Grade 5 Students to Return to Hybrid Learning Model Beginning November 2nd
Third and Fourth Graders to Return to Hybrid Learning Model October 26th
Second Grade Students Return to Hybrid Learning Model October 19th
First Graders Return to Classrooms October 12th
ACPS Welcomes Youngest Learners Back into Buildings October 5th
Phase 2 of Learn in School Phased in Plan
Back to School Forms
ACPS Wifi Information
UPDATE: Allegany County Public Schools Will Now Serve FREE Meals
ACPS will Still Open Fully Virtual on September 8th as Preparations Continue for Small Cohorts, Groups for In-Person Instruction
COVID-19 NOTIFICATION UPDATES:
In the event of a positive Covid-19 case within the Allegany County Public Schools, ACPS in collaboration with the Allegany County Health Department, will directly notify the parents/guardians of those students who have had close contact with the ill person while at school. Close contact is defined as being fewer than 6 feet apart for longer than 15 minutes, with or without a face covering.
The school will also notify parents/guardians if the Covid-19 positive case was within their child’s school, even if their child was not a close contact. This notification will be done through the ACPS Blackboard Notification System.
Every Friday, ACPS will release to the public the total number of positive cases within the county school buildings. For the week of October 12 - October 16, ACPS reports two individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 who were within an Allegany County Public School(s). These two individuals are currently out of the school building(s) and will continue to isolate. In both cases it was determined that there were no close contacts within the school(s), and no students or staff were quarantined as a result of these positive cases. Parents who have children attending these schools were notified through the ACPS Blackboard Notification System.
Published 10/16/20PARENT CONFERENCE REMINDER:The afternoons of Thursday, October 1, 2020, and Friday, October 2, 2020, have been set aside for virtual parent conferences. Due to the shortened timeframe, each phone/virtual conference is limited in the amount of time that can be provided. Please note that since in-person learning has started for some students, all teachers will not be available from 12:30-3 p.m.
There could be a high call volume those days, and some schools have modified their starting and ending times due to their individual schedules. It may not be feasible for a teacher to provide a call back on October 1st or 2nd, and it may be necessary for a teacher to contact a parent at a later date/time. Please keep in mind that ACPS teachers will do everything within reason to contact parents or return phone calls or emails during their work hours. Please do not have the expectation that teachers will return phone calls or emails after their work day has concluded.
Some teachers may not be available for parent conferences due to the hybrid schedules that have started at several schools. If you do not reach a teacher, you may call them during his/her office hours, or you may call the main office to leave a message for the teacher.
Elementary Lunch and Planning- 12-1 p.m. (No conferences available)
Elementary Virtual Conferences- 1-3 p.m.
Secondary Lunch- 12-12:30 p.m. (No conferences available)
Secondary Virtual Conferences- 12:30-2:30 p.m.
Planning- 2:30-3 p.m. (No conferences available)
Published 9/29/20At this time, all laptops and Chromebooks have been delivered to schools for distribution. Principals have communicated with parents/guardians regarding distribution procedures. Some of the distributions are occurring this week. If you need a device for a school-age student in the ACPS and you were not able to pick up the device during the scheduled distribution timeframe, please call the school and schedule a date/time to pick up the device and complete the required loaner forms. If you have an extenuating circumstance with regards to transportation, please call and discuss that concern with the school staff. When you pick up the device, the staff will provide you with the credentials and login information that you will need for Schoology.
Login to Schoology
The instructions for how a parent and student can log in to the Schoology Learning Management System (LMS) are available HERE. If you have not viewed any of the introductory videos about Schoology that have been posted on the website, you are encouraged to watch an overview of the LMS first. The overview will provide you with the basics about how Schoology works from a parent or student’s perspective. Student login information is just email@example.com and their 4-digit code from Aspen. Please ignore the information about the parent access code at this time. You will get a parent access code when school starts which will allow you to view your child's progress.
Once students log in to their Schoology account, they will see their course dashboard. To make sure the student is in his/her account, the first and last name should be in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. The course dashboard shows icons for each class the student is enrolled. The student can select each course to enter into the online classroom. Please know and understand that you may not find any information on a course at this time. It is not the expectation that teachers will have their courses completed with lessons, activities, comments, or updates at this time. Teachers will be adding course information when they return to work next week. That does not mean that some teachers have not already worked during their off hours on their courses. What it does mean is that teachers are not required to have things completed at this time. Therefore, the intended goal of providing the directions and a resource video is so that parents and students can log in to Schoology and become familiar with the features.
The following are the intended outcomes for parents and students for August 26-August 31:
View an introductory video about Schoology
Review the directions on how to log in to Schoology
View the video on how to log in to Schoology
Log in to Schoology; if your child is capable of logging in to Schoology, allow them to log in as well
If a parent or student attempt to log in to Schoology is unsuccessful, please call the ACPS IT Help Desk at 301-876-9819. The IT Help Desk staff will answer questions and concerns related to technical issues such as computer problems and accessing Schoology. The Help Desk staff will not answer instructional or classroom specific questions or concerns. The Help Desk is live from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you need assistance outside of these hours, please email ITHelpdesk@acpsmd.org. If you are on a broadband-connected Windows 10 computer, we may ask for remote access to your computer via Microsoft Quick Access.
Please Note the following:
Students must be logged into Google Chrome with their ACPS credentials to have the best Schoology experience.
ACPS credentials and login information for Schoology are provided by your child’s school (s).
Please note that some schools are planning to offer additional training on Schoology for parents/students. If your child’s school is offering a training, the principal will send out the information through the School Robocall system.
Teachers understand that they will need to provide resources to students and parents on how to engage in the learning management system, as well as expectations for learning in a virtual environment. Teachers have been provided with a guidance document on areas that will need to be addressed with students and parents in the opening days of school.
In addition, we have been asked about attendance requirements. The ACPS will provide synchronous “live or real time” and asynchronous learning through archived videos and the online activities for students if there are extenuating family circumstances. While our district goal is that every student participates in synchronous or “real time” instruction, we realize that many parents have to work during the virtual learning hours and that elementary students, in particular, may not be able to navigate the LMS without parental assistance. More information will be provided in the next days. The MSDE is scheduled to update to school systems on district attendance requirements this week.
Thank you for your continued optimism, patience, and support. There is a proverb that says “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” No one succeeds alone. Success for your child involves a collective effort among all of us. Please work with us in a spirit of cooperation, grace, and kindness. Please be assured and confident that we are working diligently to ensure that your child will have a robust education as well as the social and emotional support needed to help your child thrive. During this unprecedented period in our history, we hope that our ACPS parents know that our students are our top priority. We will do everything possible to deepen our connection with you and support you and your family. Please continue to monitor the website for updates. Stay safe and be well. Dr. Kim Kalbaugh
On August 4, 2020, the Interim Superintendent, Mr. Jeff Blank, recommended a fully virtual learning model to begin the school year, which the Board of Education unanimously approved. In the ACPS, we know that returning to school is important for the development and well-being of the students, but we also recognize our obligation to pursue reopening in a manner that is safe for students, teachers, and staff. We recognize that many of you are in agreement that it’s better to open schools virtually to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission and maintain the health and safety of students, teachers and staff; others want schools open for in-person learning so that parents can work and students won’t miss out on traditional methods of learning.
We share a commitment to providing a hybrid or traditional schooling model when it is deemed a safe and feasible option for our school communities. We will monitor the system’s ability to adjust our plans, taking into consideration guidelines from the Maryland Department of Health, the Center for Disease Control, and the Allegany County Health Department. Please note that the ACPS Recovery Plan which addresses thirteen areas required by the MSDE is posted on the ACPS website. Please know that the plan will be revised and updated as needed. The MSDE will be reviewing each district’s plan and providing feedback.
There is no doubt that parents are facing a unique set of challenges as they attempt to balance the demands of home, work, finances, and health—along with the educational needs of your children. With the new school year beginning after Labor Day, we realize that parents are concerned about their child (ren) falling behind academically, emotionally, and socially, as well as fearful that you will not be able to give your child (ren) enough attention during distance learning because of work commitments. We realize many of you are worrying about access to technology and the availability and the quality of your internet services. We also realize that coronavirus-related stress and school-related worries and concerns may be impacting the quality of mental health and wellbeing.
We have also heard that some of our parents are considering withdrawing their child from the ACPS and enrolling their child in home schooling or a private school. For parents who are considering that, we hope that you will reconsider and wait. Give the distance learning model a chance. Give the ACPS teachers a chance to show you what teaching and learning can be like in an enhanced distance learning model. Give Schoology, the new Learning Management System, a chance before a decision is made to withdraw your child from the school system. Schoology is a very accessible system, with a user-friendly interface. Schoology will make it easier for parents to stay involved in their child’s education. Teachers can access Schoology conferences via the BigBlueButton, a built-in conference application. Through this application, your child will participate in live audio and video conferences for real-time learning. Schoology offers 24 hour/7 days of week support for teachers, students, and parents. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, we are working on plans to return small groups of students to in-school learning as soon as possible. We are also coordinating arrangements to provide support during the evening hours. So, please wait and re-evaluate this consideration until you have more concrete information and hands-on experience with the distance learning model.
To alleviate some of your concerns, I would also like to direct parents to review the Frequently Asked Questions document on the website. This document provides answers to instruction, scheduling, and technology questions. For example, a question was asked about whether or not technology will be provided to students who need a device for the distance learning. A device will be provided to any ACPS student who needs a device. Distribution of technology is being coordinated by the principals, and parents will be informed of the date and time to pick up a loaner device. If a parent doesn’t need a device, however, it is not a requirement to use an ACPS device. Please note that a cell phone will not provide the capabilities needed to access the distance learning. In addition, if you have poor internet connectivity, a mobile hotspot may be just what you need. The ACPS will provide mobile hotspots. Please contact your principal to request one. For those without any connectivity, a number of access points have been installed throughout the county. Please refer to the website for additional information on local access points.
Other types of questions similar to these are provided on the FAQ. The FAQ will be updated as additional questions are received by the Public Information Officer, Mrs. Mia Cross.
The following timeline provides parents with the approximate time frame for releasing information regarding modified student schedules for distance learning, distribution of technology, Schoology training, and resources related to Schoology:
- Teachers and staff will be participating in meetings and professional learning in anticipation of the start of school for students on September 8.
- A daily schedule will be released on the website for elementary, middle, and high school levels. As previously indicated, students will have a modified schedule for learning in the distance learning environment. A lunch break will take place on Monday-Friday from 12:00-1:30 p.m.
- Resources about Schoology will be released for your review.
August 24-September 4:
- Principals will be contacting parents regarding the distribution of laptops or Chromebooks to students who need a loaner device. The principal will provide the distribution information for his/her school through the School Messenger system. Please be patient if another school has its distribution prior to your child’s school. Please do not go to the school until the principal has provided information on the date and time to pick up a device. It is important to understand that technology devices were ordered months ago, but there have been challenges in receiving orders in a timely manner because of the impact of COVID-19 on the availability of the devices.
- Parents are asked to contact the school office where your child (ren) attends if you do not have internet connectivity at your home. If the internet connectivity is weak, please request a mobile hotspot.
- Additional Schoology resources will be released. Individual schools may also be planning training events. That information will be communicated to parents by the school principal.
During the first week of virtual learning, our goals will be to connect with your child, to build or re-establish relationships with your child, to set expectations for attendance, to discuss grading, to promote engagement in the learning, and to provide information that you and your child will need to know about the instructional day and how to navigate the distance learning model.
In closing, you are not alone in this new challenge. The pandemic has negatively impacted all of us and changed the way we are currently able to conduct business or provide education. Please remember that we are living in an unprecedented time. Please display empathy toward yourself, your child (ren), and the teachers. We all need grace (compassion and acting positively), kindness, and patience during this time. Please know that we don’t have all the answers. Who does? The transition is not going to be perfect. What is? This is not an ideal situation for anyone, anywhere, so please extend grace and do your best to remain calm and flexible as the ACPS re-opens the schools through a fully virtual learning model. Please continue to monitor the ACPS website and check your phone messages in the coming days for more information. Please know that your child’s health, education, and well-being are foremost in our minds.ACPS to Utilize New Online Learning Platform to Allow for High-Quality Engaging Instruction
The Allegany County Board of Education voted to start the 2020-2021 school year virtually, utilizing a new learning management platform that will offer learning opportunities that can very closely mirror face-to-face instruction. Students will begin their virtual learning on September 8, 2020, and educators will return August 19-21, 2020, and September 2-3, 2020, in preparation for the start of the school year.
Schoology is a learning management system (LMS) that has all the tools necessary for educators to create engaging content, design lessons, and assess student understanding. With Schoology, teachers can quickly and easily create media-rich lessons, reuse past courses, and even embed content from Google Drive, Microsoft Office, YouTube, and more. Additionally, teachers will have the ability to pace and track students individually, connect them in collaborative groups, and differentiate and blend instruction.
ACPS will begin the year online with shortened class periods and schedules that will allow for time in the afternoons for teachers to be available to answer questions and address potential concerns. Parents should also be on the lookout in the near future for information about attending small group sessions to learn more about the use of Schoology.
ACPS educators have been participating in virtual sessions with representatives from Schoology in order to learn the platform’s basic features, including how to create virtual live classrooms, how to create assignments and assessments, and how to provide “offline” opportunities for students without reliable access to the Internet at home. One requirement included in MSDE’s Recovery Plan is that all school systems ensure that Maryland College and Career Ready Standards from Pre-K through grade twelve are taught in all content areas and that state frameworks are followed. For this reason, ACPS content area supervisors are working collaboratively with teachers to create courses that meet this requirement.
According to ACPS Coordinator of Professional Learning, Dr. George Brown, “The really good thing about Schoology is that teachers will have the autonomy to ultimately create and deliver lessons, which wasn’t possible this spring due to limitations with Google Classroom.” Dr. Brown went on to say, “I am confident that if each teacher is prepared to provide high-quality instruction via Schoology, he/she will be prepared to provide high-quality instruction, regardless of the instructional situation. Will there be a learning curve for all involved? Absolutely! But we will provide support to educators, students, and parents/guardians as we, together, learn to navigate Schoology.”
The school board’s decision to open the school year virtually will also postpone all athletic and extra curricular activities effective as of the time of this release (8/4/20 at 2 p.m). Central office leadership and school system administrators will continue to work in collaboration with the local Health Department to monitor COVID-19 to provide updates to the ACPS Recovery Plan, including athletics and extra curricular activities.
NOTE: An updated Post-Labor Day calendar will be posted/shared as soon as it is available.
The following press release was issued by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. The impact of this decision on ACPS extracurricular activities will be forthcoming in the near future.MPSSAA Fall and Winter Competition Seasons Postponed
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) in consultation with the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), and the Public School Superintendent Association of Maryland (PSSAM) has decided to postpone the 2020 high school fall and winter competition season during the first semester. This decision comes in light of the recent announcements of local school systems to begin education virtually and provides each school system with options for the gradual increase of student engagement for the physical and social-emotional health of students.
With this announcement, local school systems will be able to use MPSSAA waiver regulations as approved by the Maryland State Board of Education on June 23, 2020 for student engagement during the first semester. The MPSSAA, the MDH, and the PSSAM will continue to collaborate on finalizing a hybrid two-semester plan focused on student engagement options in the first semester and modified competition seasons for all sports during the second semester. Details of the hybrid two-semester plan will be available in the coming weeks prior to the start of the 2020-2021 academic year.
The health and safety of student participants, coaches, and officials is a primary concern for the return of interscholastic athletics and activities. The MPSSAA, the PSSAM, and the Maryland State Department of Education collectively share a commitment for the return of these highly beneficial educational programs when it is deemed safe for all school communities.
Published 8/3/20ACPS RECOVERY PLAN UPDATE:
The Allegany County Public School system recognizes that schools are a vital and irreplaceable component of a community. Schools not only provide academic services for students but other services such as social and emotional learning, counseling services, and food and nutrition.
The school closures on March 13, 2020 in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis were heartbreaking for our students, staff, and community. How and when schools in Allegany County reopen impacts more than just students and teachers – it impacts the entire community.
The Allegany County Public Schools staff are faced with a tremendous challenge in preparing for the 2020-2021 school year. We are truly vested in doing what is best and what is right for our students and staff’s well-being. We are using the “Maryland Together: Maryland’s Recovery Plan for Education” and Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the Allegany County Public School System continues to work towards recovery, we would like to provide parents, students, and staff with the status of our Recovery Plan.
ACPS is currently reviewing recovery options for the three stages within Maryland’s Roadmap to Recovery in preparation for the opening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year, which is currently scheduled for August 26, 2020, for students. An ACPS staff sub-committee has been formulating our plan with various community members, staff from the Allegany County Health Department and staff from multiple ACPS departments including facilities, food service, health/wellness, instruction, operations, safety/security, technology, and transportation in order to ensure the feasibility of all recovery options. The feedback gathered to date is being carefully considered and appropriate revisions to our recovery plan are being incorporated.
Within the next two weeks details of the draft ACPS recovery plan will be provided to parents, students, and staff for their review and comment. There will also be a survey sent to all families with student(s) currently enrolled requesting input by the end of July 2020. The school system's final recovery plan will be presented to the Board of Education at the August 11, 2020, regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The approved recovery plan will then be submitted to the Maryland State Department of Education by August 14, 2020, for review and final approval.
Please note that during Stage 2 within the Maryland’s Roadmap to Recovery, all ACPS families will have the option of fully remote learning for health and/or family reasons.
ACPS COMMUNITY HOTSPOTS: Allegany County Public Schools is providing community hotspots in community partner locations such as fire departments and churches. Use the network called “ACPS-Hotspot” to connect. The password is the ACPS Community Helpdesk number 3018769819. A captive portal requests your compliance with the Telecommunications Acceptable Use Policy and then provides you access to the Internet. As a community hotspot is ready with WiFi access, it will appear in the list to the right with a map showing exact access points.
These community hotspots enable you to access the Internet easily. This WiFi is intended for use by ACPS staff, students, and parents for instructional purposes. All ACPS WiFi traffic is logged and filtered for CIPA compliance.
The public should remain in their vehicles at all times adhering to social distancing mandates as set forth by Governor Hogan.
Published 5/21/20ACPS WIFI ACCESS IN PARKING LOTS: Allegany County Public Schools is providing an Internet connection that is accessible from your vehicle in parking lots at our schools. Starting Friday, May 8, 2020, ACPS will provide external WiFi access in several locations. Please monitor the ACPS crisis management website periodically for these school locations.Please use the network called “ACPS-ENT” to connect. USER ID is “hotspot” and the PASSWORD is “acps”.
The parking lot WiFi capability enables you to access the Internet easily. This WiFi is intended for use by ACPS staff, students, and parents for instructional purposes. All ACPS WiFi traffic is logged and filtered for CIPA compliance. Additionally, all exterior areas of the school campus are subject to video recording.
The public should remain in their vehicles at all times adhering to social distancing mandates as set forth by Governor Hogan.
Published 5/8/20ATTENTION PARENTS AND GUARDIANS:
ACPS encourages and highly recommends that parents wear masks/cloth face coverings during meal and/or packet pickups to help fight the spread of the new coronavirus. In a recommendation released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity, and they would recommend wearing a mask or cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
The recommendation is less about preventing the wearer from contracting the coronavirus themselves than it is about limiting asymptomatic people from unknowingly spreading the disease. Wearing cloth masks, the CDC said, could “help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”
Published 4/17/20ACPS IT Community Help Desk: 301-876-9819
ACPS has established an Instructional Technology Help Desk number to offer assistance for computer problems and accessing online instructional resources. The helpdesk is live from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you need assistance outside of these hours, please email ITHelpdesk@acpsmd.org. If you are on a broadband connected Windows 10 computer, we may ask for remote access to your computer via Microsoft Quick Access.