School Board Votes to Open Schools Online Beginning September 8th
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.