As early as Monday, Anne Arundel Public Schools in Maryland will begin relaxing social distancing guidelines for students in the classrooms and on buses.
This decision comes after the Anne Arundel County Board of Education approved a motion Wednesday night that directs the school system to give “flexible consideration” to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “recommended distancing guidelines.”
The CDC recommends students be at least 3 feet apart and teachers and students to be 6 feet apart.
Schools Superintendent George Arlotto sent a letter to families of students informing them of the board’s decision on Friday.
He said in the letter that he spoke with all the principals throughout the county about the best way to move forward.
The decision, he said, means that “while there are still some barriers to returning students to in-person learning such as staffing challenges and the number of available midday monitors, the number of desks in a classroom and the number of students on a bus will no longer be among them.”
Arlotto said that desks in classrooms will now be closer together and multiple students can now sit on a single bench seat on a bus. Mask-wearing guidelines will remain the same.
He said adjusted seating arrangements in the classroom and on buses must be in order before more students return to in-person learning on Monday.
Schools are in contact with families about returning to school and the new distancing guidelines. Arlotto warns, “Please do not assume your student can return to a school without communication with that school.”
Even with the new guidelines, students will continue to eat lunch and other meals in their classrooms. According to Arlotto, the Anne Arundel County Department of Health said that this is a better option than “bringing larger groups of students together in places like cafeterias.”
The new guidance will change bus schedules, and Arlotto said it will result in longer bus rides for some students.
The school system currently follows a two- or four-day in-person learning schedule, and has been bringing more students back into the schools since it reopened its doors on March 1 to some students.
Students will return to only in-person learning in the fall.
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