ACPS will Still Open Fully Virtual on September 8th
Preparations Continue for Small Cohorts, Groups for In-Person Instruction
On August 4, 2020, the Interim Superintendent, Mr. Jeff Blank, recommended a fully virtual learning model to begin the 2020-2021 school year, which the Board of Education unanimously approved. ACPS knows that returning to school with in-person options is important for the development and well-being of the students, but also recognizes our obligation to pursue reopening in a manner that is safe for students, teachers, and staff.
On August 27, 2020, the state of Maryland issued a new document entitled “COVID-19 Guidance for Maryland Schools”. It is noted in this document that the guidance is provided to assist schools to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance states:
School systems and nonpublic schools are encouraged to open for in-person learning where it is safe to do so. These schools are expected to follow applicable guidelines from the Maryland Department of Health, local health department, and the CDC for safe reopening of in-person instruction. Each local school system and nonpublic school, in consultation with the local health department, should review the school reopening metrics to make reopening decisions and to adjust in-person educational offerings, as necessary, when the metrics indicate an increased level of risk.
Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, stated during yesterday’s press conference, “Today, in light of those improving numbers (COVID numbers within the state) and with these specific metrics provided by the Department of Health, I am strongly encouraging local school systems to re-evaluate their mode of instruction by the end of the first quarter of the upcoming school year, especially if they have indicated that they are maintaining a virtual delivery system until January of 2021.”
ACPS has always shared a commitment to providing a hybrid or traditional schooling model when it is deemed a safe and feasible option for our school communities. With the new guidelines provided August 27, 2020, ACPS will still open fully virtual on September 8, 2020, for student learning while continuing preparations in accordance with our submitted plan that allows for small cohorts/groups of students to receive some in-school learning. These small groups could include students with disabilities, early childhood and elementary school students, at-risk students who need additional support through Tiered instruction, and CCTE students who need hands-on instruction within their CTE skill/technical area. Utilizing a gradual, phased-in approach, which may not include all groups at the same time, rather than returning students through the hybrid model, will allow the school system to monitor and mitigate challenges directly and in the future.
The ACPS Recovery Plan, which addresses thirteen areas required by the MSDE, is posted HERE and will be revised and updated as needed going forward.