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Reaction & safety concerns regarding BCPS' hybrid learning plan

Posted at 5:10 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 07:30:06-05

BALTIMORE — Beginning March 1, Baltimore County Public Schools will phase in reopening for students whose families chose hybrid learning, as well as for all employees. According to district plans, hybrid learning includes two in-person learning days and three virtual learning days per week.

Despite the plans, some teachers have voiced concern over the plan, specifically when it comes to access of the coronavirus vaccines.

"It is not enough time," said TABCO president Cindy Sexton. "I’m hearing from many, many educators who want the vaccine and they’re just not available for them. It’s just not out there."

While teachers are not mandated to receive shots TABCO told WMAR-2 News it would have been better for the district to wait until all teachers had the opportunity to be vaccinated.

"We would have like for our teachers to get both doses before having to return," said Sexton.

Under the hybrid plan students will be phased back to school, should their parents choose, in two groups.

Families who chose hybrid learning will receive their child's group assignment of Cohort A or Cohort B before their child's return date. Return dates will vary by student group. Families also have the option to continue full virtual instruction.

In a statement Monday Superintendent Darryl Williams said "We have heard loud and clear that some families are ready for in-person learning. While school operations will look different as we implement the (Center for Disease Control and Prevention's) recommended practices for health and safety, I look forward to greeting students and staff as they return. I also commend staff across the organization for their hard work to prepare for reopening, despite not only the challenges of COVID-19, but also the ongoing and long-term effects of the ransomware attack on our systems."

In an interview with WMAR district spokesperson Charles Hendron said safety remains the district's number one priority.

"When they go back they are going to be seeing everybody wearing masks," said Hendron. "There is going to be efforts to social distance. There will be a variety of other things, a very clean school that a lot of folks will be able to see when they go back to school."

WMAR asked what specific personal protection gear, aside from masks will be present. We asked if there will be plexiglass-like barriers seen in other classrooms across the country.

"You are going to have a variety of PPE," he said. "I don’t think people are going to see that in every classroom. There may be some sort of situation in which case that may be warranted."

As for teachers who are concerned about their return to the classroom for hybrid learning, the district they will handle those requests and concerns on an individual basis.

For more information, the Baltimore County Public Schools provides the following resources for families and staff:

The BCPS Reopening Design Team and the COVID-19 Task Force are continuing to gather feedback via reopening@bcps.org.

Click here for more information on how your county is handling reopening.