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Baltimore City Schools announce changes for distance learning

Posted at 6:28 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 07:19:43-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — With schools now closed for another month, schools systems are working to get learning online or in the students' hands to keep their going.

Thursday, Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises announced the changes they are making for the next month of distance learning.

"It’s a challenge. It’s a challenge for our students and our families. We are dramatically changing the way we deliver instruction in real time," said Santelises.

Next week, students will continue with their work packets as previously implemented. They're available online or for pick up from one of the 18 meal sites in Baltimore. The packets are assigned by grade and include adaptations for students with disabilities.

Also next week, principals and teachers will work on professional development virtually and independently while continuing to develop student work.

"And then on Monday April 6, students will continue to engage in learning based on their needs but they will also be able to access daily reading and math lessons and some science on educational access channels such as Charm TV and our own Baltimore City public Schools channel," said Santelises.

Santelises said they are focused on providing academically sound and fair education for all students so they want to distribute that schools system's 15,000 Chromebooks, prioritizing juniors, seniors, homeless students and students with disabilities. Starting Friday, they will be conducting a survey online and via phone call to identify the families that need technology or internet access.

"We will be working to ensure this technology is appropriate for deployment and to distribute to families as need," said Santelises.

As for the internet access, Santelises said they are in the early stages of working with the Pratt Free Library system and utilities.

Santelises said they will continue to improve the distance learning in the coming weeks and have some big decisions to make about proms, graduations, extending the school year into the summer and how fourth quarter grades will be assigned looking at pass, fail or pass incomplete.

"If you’re a homeless student and you don’t have access to the same distance learning opportunity and you’re just completing your work individually, the question is should you really receive a fail? So we’ve actually even in a number of places talked about pass incomplete," said Santelises.

By April 6, the school system also plans to launch a special parent hotline where families can call and get support on assignments, technical help and social or emotional support.