Anne Arundel County, Maryland’s public schools will begin a phased reentry of students to in-person teaching come November, after starting the academic year with an all-virtual learning plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elementary schools will welcome pre-K and second grade students back to school buildings starting Nov. 9, as well as early childhood intervention programs, Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent George Arlotto said at a Monday night board meeting.
Third and fifth grade students will follow on Nov. 30. Students will start out with a hybrid learning model: half of classes will be taught in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other half on Thursdays and Fridays.
“The important part is doing it safely and doing it in a manner that’s thoughtful, that we’ll be able to maintain schools being open once we open,” Arlotto said.
Dr. Nilash Kalyanaraman, the county’s health officer, said the decision to resume in-person classes was partly based on students’ age, and a current daily new case rate of only eight cases for every 100,000 Anne Arundel residents.
Kalyanaraman said the goal is to balance getting kids back into the classroom while taking into account the risks involved: “Children less than 10 are less likely to get COVID, and they’re also less likely to have symptoms if they do get it.”
County Executive Steuart Pittman was among those who applauded school officials for bringing the plan together. “You’re doing something that very few school districts in Maryland have had the courage to do,” he said.
Safety precautions, including masks and social distancing, will be required. Desks will also be spread out and common areas, like cafeterias, will not be in use. If 5% or more of a school has cases in a 14 day period, that school will close, Kalyanaraman added.
Teachers will return to the classroom Oct. 26, but will continue to teach online.
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