BALTIMORE — A virtual town hall on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube drew 1,600 students, parents and teachers who learned there will be a new normal if and when schools reopen this fall in Baltimore City.
“As of right now, we have no plans to open school fully K-through-12,” said Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises. “I know there’s some discussion about that nationally, but here in Baltimore City, the two options families will have will be an all-virtual option and a hybrid option that would include some virtual and some in-person learning.”
Preliminary results of surveys by 7,000 families showed nearly half of them felt their students’ emotional wellbeing suffered through distance learning, and three out of 10 felt their children made no academic advancement while trying to learn from home.
Under the current preliminary plan, those who choose to return to the schools would only do so two days a week, they’d find desk shields and dividers awaiting them and they’d be required to wear masks both in the classroom and on the buses.
“Those families who are able to provide their own PPE, particularly in the form of masks, that will help,” said Santelises. “That will help stretch the supply we have. That will help to maximize the reserves that we have.”
Questions remain surrounding a shortage of COVID testing in the city, the cleanliness of school buildings and how to accommodate teachers with immune deficiencies as well as a need to provide internet service and devices for those who choose to learn from home.
The city school system is scheduled to present a draft reopening plan to the Board of School Commissioners on July 28.