The Frederick County Board of Education reaffirmed its intention to start the 2020-21 school year virtually, a day after Gov. Larry Hogan urged school systems to begin getting students back into classrooms.
While stressing that the health and safety of county students were its first priorities, the BOE released a statement Friday that the school year would begin virtually for the vast majority of its students. The first day of school in Frederick County is Monday as the state and country continue to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will continue with our virtual learning model plans, including the implementation of small group in-person instruction for targeted groups of students,” the statement said. “In partnership with our local health department and County Executive, we will continue to evaluate when it is safe for all students and staff members to return to in-person instruction. We remain committed to our decision to open the 2020-21 school year with the virtual model on August 31, 2020.”
The board announced in July that Frederick County’s first semester would be all virtual, except for small groups such as special education students and English Language students, who could struggle under a fully virtual format.
At a press conference Thursday, Hogan said that while the decision would ultimately be up to local school boards, all of the public schools in the state could begin to safely reopen.
“In order for us to keep moving forward and to keep making progress, it is absolutely critical that we begin the process of getting our children safely and gradually back into the classroom,” Hogan said. State schools Superintendent Karen Salmon called on county school boards to evaluate their mode of instruction at the end of the first quarter to see if in-person instruction can be expanded.
Frederick County Board of Education President Brad Young said Thursday that he felt Hogan’s announcement “was getting to the game a little bit late,” since school systems had already made their reopening plans several weeks ago.
He said it’s possible, but not probable that plans could change after the first quarter, but said health metrics would have to greatly improve for teachers, administrators and others to feel safe returning more students into schools.
“We said throughout the first semester... so unless something drastic were to happen, I couldn’t see it changing,” Young said.