Frederick County's schools superintendent expressed relief Maryland’s state board of education modified recent recommendations put forth by the state superintendent on how much live instruction students should be receiving each day.
State Superintendent Karen Salmon recently proposed students should receive between three and five hours of live instruction from a teacher each day depending on their grade level. She also proposed that school systems who were not yet meeting this benchmark revamp their current model to meet the new time requirements by the mid-point of the first academic quarter.
This proposal came just as school systems throughout the state either reopened or planned to reopen with virtual models they spent months preparing.
The state board, during a special meeting called Tuesday, voted that school systems must implement at least three-and-a-half hours per day for all grade levels by the end of the academic year.
Alban said in an email that she believes the FCPS plan is already meeting the time requirement and that the decision by the state board will give FCPS another opportunity to review the model in place.
Within the same motion, the state board also set a new requirement stating that school systems must reevaluate their reopening plans for the second semester by the end of the first academic quarter. The plan must be submitted to the Maryland State Department of Education no later than the third week of November.
The first quarter for FCPS ends on Nov 6.
Alban said she did not think it would be a challenge for the Frederick County Board of Education to review the reopening plan by then.
"I know that our Board noted we would remain in the virtual model until a review in January. However, they always discussed the possibility of reviewing our plan if there were significant changes related to COVID-19."
The state education department posted Salmon's latest proposal on the department's website Saturday, but in the hours between then and the board meeting, the state's teachers union had rallied the support of 20,000 people who signed a petition opposing it. School districts had an Aug. 14 deadline to submit reopening plans to the state education department.
Salmon and several board members said they are representing the views of many parents in the state who want more hours of instruction and the option of returning to school buildings. They said in-person classes are particularly important for students with disabilities, those learning English as a second language and high school students trying to earn professional certifications in Career and Technology classes.
"We were really concerned about the children that don't learn well online ... the hundreds of parents who said they wanted more direct instruction," Salmon said.
A move to defer a decision for several weeks lost by one vote Tuesday before state school board members began rewriting Salmon's proposal during the video meeting as they discussed it. The changes reduced the number of hours required for some students and significantly delayed the implementation.
Baltimore Sun reporter Liz Bowie contributed to this article.