This story is part of “Parenting in a Pandemic,” WTOP’s continuing coverage of how parents are dealing with childcare, schooling and more through the coronavirus pandemic.
Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland’s largest school system, released more details for its all-virtual reopening plan Tuesday, which includes a full day of instruction, more support for staff, students and families and recording lessons for students to access later.
“We built on what we learned during the spring to develop a model that will provide a robust and dynamic virtual learning experience for our students. Virtual learning schedules for students align closely with what a student would typically experience in schools,” said MCPS superintendent Jack R. Smith, in a letter to families.
In the new plan, the school system gives sample schedules and outlines what each grade level should expect on a weekly basis when the school year begins Aug. 31.
Elementary school students should expect up to 90 minutes of both math and literacy classes, twice-weekly social studies/science classes for 30-45 minutes, along with weekly art, music and physical education classes for 20 to 45 minutes. The schedule also incorporates time for individual support, interventions, and special services, such as ESOL and special education.
For middle school and high school students, there are expected to be four one-hour classes per day, except Wednesday, when students are expected to work independently but check in each period in the afternoon.
For all students, MCPS said it will add social emotional learning lessons and create space for mindfulness activities designed “to support student stress management and support student focus during their day.”
The new plans goes to the school board for a vote Thursday, which gives the school system time to gather input from teachers, parents and students before a final board vote Aug. 25.
The announcement comes two weeks after the school system announced, like many other area public schools, it adopted an all-virtual learning start to the school year and canceled all fall and winter sports.
The move to the all-virtual schedule came after parents, students and teachers expressed concerns about Maryland’s largest school system returning to in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, even if schools in Montgomery County follow guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.