Students in Charles County, Maryland, public schools will not start off the school year in person, the school board voted Tuesday.
Under the plan, students would receive full-day online instruction four days a week, with Wednesdays designated as independent study days when students could also arrange one-on-one meetings with teachers and counselors.
The school board voted for the virtual learning start 5-2; the student member of the board opposed the decision.
The school system initially suggested reopening campuses for special cases, such as students who do not have internet, English language learners and special education students. But the school board voted against that option, citing safety concerns.
Superintendent Kimberly Hill said that could cause major setbacks for some students.
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In a release later Tuesday, the school board said it would start the school year with virtual learning with the goal of moving into a second phase, which “would include in-person instruction for special populations of students.”
The board tasked administrators to survey faculty and parents of those special cases about their comfort returning to the classroom. After those findings, the board could decide to reverse their decision next month, allowing special needs students back on campus early in the school year.
The last part of the recommendation does say that as health conditions allow, other learning opportunities for children may be phased in, At-Large Board member Virginia McGraw said.
The other options considered were: virtual learning for third to 12th grades, and in-person from pre-K to second grade and special groups; 50% of students doing virtual learning and the other half attending school two days a week; and in-person learning for all students.
School will start on Aug. 31.
For more information, visit the school system’s website.