Fall virtual classes in Maryland have very low enrollment so far

While most public school systems in Maryland will offer virtual options for students in the upcoming school year, it appears that class sizes will be very small.

According to the latest figures released Tuesday by the Maryland State Board of Education, about 14,000 students are signed up for online classes in the fall.

That is just 1.5% of all students enrolled in public schools across the state.

“Twenty-two of our local school systems have indicated that they are going to offer a virtual program,” said Carol Williamson, Maryland’s deputy state superintendent for teaching and learning. “Individual systems have tailored their program to their communities and needs.”

Five Maryland school districts have virtual enrollment of over 1,000 students.

Montgomery County has about 2,200 signed up for virtual classes while Prince George’s County has 1,400. Frederick County has roughly 1,100 who want to learn online. Baltimore City has 1,500 students, and Baltimore County has just under 3,500.

Williamson said some school systems may end up dropping their online options due to a lack of enrollment. That has already happened in Howard County, which scrapped its online high school program. Carroll County decided to get rid of virtual classes for all of its students.

Williamson said the state would monitor the attendance and performance of students who learn virtually.

“We’re very committed to making sure students are successful and we’re not putting them in a model where they are going to fail halfway through the year,” Williamson said.

Throughout the pandemic, school systems have attempted to weigh the impact of virtual learning.

According to a report released in May, students had “more positive social-emotional outcomes when they were engaging in in-person learning compared to fully virtual instruction.”

At the same time, it found that a number of students and families expressed anxiety and stress related to COVID-19 exposure and in-person interactions.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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