WESTMINSTER, Md. — Monday was the first day of the new hybrid in-person learning program in Carroll County. After visiting several schools today, the superintendent said the first day went well. Right now this is just for elementary and middle schoolers, but they are hoping to give high school students the option soon.
"The kids I’ve talked to are happy to be back," said Superintendent Steve Lockard.
For the first time since March, thousands of Carroll County students were back in school Monday.
"It’s hard work. There’s a lot of logistics behind it all and we want to be safe first and foremost," said Lockard.
The approved hybrid plan allows for elementary and middle school students to return in-person two days a week in established cohorts. One group will go Monday and Tuesday, the other Thursday and Friday, and Wednesday is dedicated to cleaning and sanitizing buildings.
"We think it’s important for our students. It’s a long time to be out of school. It’s a long time not to be around their teachers, the supports and resources that we have in place," said Lockard.
Lockard said one thing they did have to coordinate before moving into this hybrid model was coverage. They had a lot of teachers and staff request leave.
"We've worked really hard to keep a lot of those folks on virtually so that we still have in most cases, in many cases, the teacher on record still teaches our students," said Lockard.
So while those teachers are piped in virtually for the in-person students, the county needed to get a couple hundred substitutes for in person instruction.
"We are obligated obviously to have supervision and adequate coverage in our schools and that’s been our challenge," said Lockard.
While many students will be returning this week, about one third of families have opted to stay completely virtual.
"Teachers have been doing a great job with the online schooling so far. We are just gonna wait and see what happens with the hybrid model," said parent Adam Kavalsky.
Kavalsky wants to see how the hybrid model goes before sending his son Harrison back to school.
"It’s hard because a lot of my friends are going back to school and I have to stay home so I can’t play with them," said Harrison.
But Harrison said he understands why his parents made he decision.
"So I can become safe and be a better parent when I grow up," said Harrison.
Students will continue to receive virtual instruction on days when they are not in school and the county will reassess this hybrid model if there are increases in cases.
The original plan was for high schools to start Monday as well, but on Wednesday the Carroll County School Board voted to push that back until November 12, which is the first day of the second quarter. Lockard said they are just finalizing plans and filling some vacancies to make sure there is coverage for all in-person instruction before offering hybrid for them.
During the meeting the board committed to discussing a possible December 7 date to resume sports.
In September, Governor Larry Hogan cleared all Maryland Schools to begin sports practices on October 7 and games on the 27th.
Under a plan released by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, high school sports would return February 1, 2021.
Other items discussed included the proposed 2021-22 school calendar.
The system is looking to start on September 8, so students can be off September 7 for the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah.
June 7, 2022 would be the last day of school, if no snow days are needed, for which the system built three in its schedule.
Winter break would be taken from December 24 through January 3, 2022, with spring break from April 15 to 18.
The 2021-2022 schedule is expected to be voted upon sometime in November.