Fall school plans for DC, Maryland, Virginia systems during coronavirus

Public school systems throughout the D.C. region are grappling with how to handle the new school year during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many are urging caution, start dates are being pushed back and some form of virtual learning is being included in plans by multiple regional school systems.

Below are the plans for school systems by state and county in the WTOP listening area.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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DC Public Schools

D.C. Public Schools will have an all-virtual start to the school year, officials said July 30.

“Our top priority and planning for this school year is of course, the health and well-being of our students, staff, families and community,” Deputy Mayor of Education Paul Kihn said.

“We are moving forward with an all-virtual start to the school year for students in pre-K through the 12th grade, through Term 1, until Nov. 6.”

The health and safety of students was cited as a key reason for the Aug. 31 all-virtual start.


According to state guidelines, each school system has until Aug. 14 to post its plans. Teachers and parents in Maryland are asking the state’s Department of Education to unite school districts behind a plan that would start the school year online, except in extreme cases.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools

Anne Arundel County Public Schools will implement virtual learning for the entire first semester of the 2020-2021 school year. Superintendent George Arlotto will review the plan with the Board of Education at a public meeting on July 22.

Baltimore City Public Schools

All Baltimore City Public Schools will open the 2020 to 2021 school year virtually, delaying the start of a hybrid in-person option until later in the fall.

The school system is proposing to the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners that the first day of school for students be September 8, following Labor Day weekend to allow for additional time before the start of the school year for professional learning for staff.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County Public Schools is still working on a reopening plan for students. Virtual learning, in-person and hybrid systems are being considered.

Calvert County Public Schools

Calvert County has plans for hybrid learning and all-virtual learning. The hybrid program splits students into A and B groups, with those groups returning to school for two days a week on alternating days — Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday.

Classes on the three other days will be virtual. The first day of school is Sept. 1.

Carroll County Public Schools

The county’s board of education has yet to vote on a final reopening plan for the new school year.

Carroll County Public Schools presented the board updated draft plans that call for a mix of virtual learning and in-person classes when the 2020-2021 year begins.

The school board is scheduled to meet again at 5 p.m. on Wed., July 29.

Charles County Public Schools

The Charles County school board voted to start the year with all-virtual distance learning beginning Aug. 31.

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.

Frederick County Public Schools

The county’s school board decided on July 29 that the first semester of the upcoming school year, which starts Aug. 31, will be all-virtual.

Howard County Public Schools

School will start two weeks later, on Sept. 8 instead of Aug. 25. All public school students will take all of their classes online through at least through the end of January.

Montgomery County Public Schools

Montgomery County Public Schools will start the school year with virtual-only learning for the first semester, the superintendent announced July 21.

In an Aug. 4 update, MCPS said its plan includes a full day of instruction, more support for staff, students and families and recording lessons for students to access later.

The first semester is through Jan. 29, 2021; the school system will reassess the plan in November for the second semester, starting Feb. 1, 2021.

This means all fall and winter sports will be canceled, said Superintendent Jack Smith in a message to the community.

On Aug. 6, the school board voted on a virtual-only start for the first semester.

Prince George’s County Public Schools

Prince George’s County students will start the new school year Aug. 31 with distance learning and that virtual learning will remain in place through January 2021. It will involve more live instruction blended with recorded instruction.

St. Mary’s County Public Schools

St. Mary’s County confirmed Aug. 12 that classes will be held entirely online for the start of the 2020/2021 school year. The school board will soon vote to finalize a plan for digital instruction.


Alexandria Public Schools

Alexandria City Public Schools announced July 31 it’s planning for virtual-only classes this fall. The plan must be approved by the school board. The ACPS start date is Sept. 8.

Arlington Public Schools

The Arlington County school board voted July 16 to start school later than Aug. 31, as originally planned. The new start day is Sept. 8, and all students would begin with full-time distance learning.

Culpeper County Public Schools

Public schools in Culpeper County are scheduled to begin the new school year Aug. 24.

The school board voted for a blended learning plan and posted the details online.

Fairfax County Public Schools

The Fairfax County School Board in Virginia voted July 21 to approve the recommendation of Superintendent Scott Brabrand that the school year begin virtually.

FCPS will start the year two weeks later, on Sept. 8, to give teachers more time to plan.

City of Falls Church

Elementary schools will open on Aug. 24. in an alternating day format. Monday will be a teacher work day. The school system is planning a phased reopening of the two elementary schools in an effort to bring back 100% of students.

Parents opting for online learning for elementary students will have their students enrolled in the Virtual Virginia Outreach program.

The school system said that a full return to school is not available for secondary school students due to their size and capacity. It is looking for ways to increase direct instruction and will provide further clarification in the following weeks.

Fauquier County Public Schools

Students in public schools across Fauquier County will start the year with virtual learning. The school board voted to move to a 100% virtual instructional model for all students through December.

FCPS says it will publish a virtual learning fact sheet and update its reopening website to reflect the updated reopening plan.

Fredericksburg City Public Schools

Public schools in Fredericksburg City are scheduled to reopen on Aug. 17.

The school system is offering three options for students:

  • A distance learning option
  • A hybrid option, with 40% in-person learning and 60% distance learning
  • An 80% in-person option, if recommended by a teacher and approved by an administrator

Parents have until Friday, July 17, to submit their preference.

Loudoun County Public Schools

The school system is looking to pivot to a virtual-only start to the school year.

The Monroe Advanced Technical Academy will start with hybrid in-person instruction because most of its courses “require hands-on learning,” according to a statement.

School starts Sept. 8.

Manassas City Public Schools

Manassas students will start their year virtually on Aug. 31, following a vote by the school board.

Some special education students and level one and two English-as-second-language students will be allowed to return for some in-person instruction to begin the school year, but the remainder of students will begin the school year entirely through online learning.

The board agreed to revisit the decision and consider moving to some in-person instruction on a monthly basis.

Manassas Park City Schools

Manassas Park City schools will have a distance-learning start Sept. 8. The school board “agreed to examine health data each month with a goal of returning to in-person learning when deemed safe to do so,” according to a statement.

Prince William County Public Schools

Prince William County students will not be back in the classroom when the school year begins Sept. 8.

The school system will provide some in-person instruction for students with special needs and some English language learners.

Rappahannock County Public Schools

Rappahannock County Public Schools posted its reopening plan online.

Stafford County Public Schools

The school board has voted to open the year with virtual learning for nearly all elementary, middle and high school students.

Because of the risks associated with COVID-19, the board determined that all but exempted students will open the school year with virtual learning.

Categories of exempted students are expected to be further defined at the board’s Aug. 11 meeting.

WTOP’s Dan Friedell, Matt Small Jack Moore and Maryland Matters contributed to this report.

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