ANNAPOLIS — Students will not return to classrooms for the rest of this academic year, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced Wednesday afternoon, May 6, during Gov. Larry Hogan’s COVID-19 press conference. Maryland’s public school buildings will remain closed.
“I am convinced this is the appropriate decision in order to continue to protect the health and safety of our students, educators, staff and all members of school communities throughout Maryland,” Salmon said
Online and distance learning will continue, Salmon said, while the State Department of Education prepares a comprehensive long-term recovery plan called Maryland Together: Recovery Plan for Education.
School systems continue to grapple with challenges posed by online learning. Queen Anne’s County Public Schools have ordered and distributed 100 personal hotspots to teachers and students without internet service at home; more are needed. And spotty cell service in some areas of the county render the hotspots useless.
The county school system is also planning to set up outdoor wireless access points at the county’s Title 1 schools where families will be able to sit in the parking lot and access the internet. That equipment is scheduled to arrive next week.
Wifi is already accessible from the parking lots of both high schools, according to information provided by Assistant Superintendent of Schools Greg Pilewski at recent school board meetings. Families can find the signal by the rear portables at Queen Anne’s County High School; at Kent Island High, the signal can be found on the football side of the parking lot.
Students also have the option of completing paper lesson packets, but the completed assignments must be submitted by photo or pdf on phone or via email.
Deadlines for completing assignments have been extended. All assignments completed during the state of emergency will go in the category of progress assessments, and the schools have adopted a policy of “do no harm” when it comes to grading for the final portion of the academic year, Pilewski said.
The county also has prepared a recovery education plan to help students who may have missed specific concepts catch up over the summer or next fall. It involves a computer program that assesses a student’s knowledge and provides training to fill in any gaps detected.
Maryland is among the last of the states to make the call on school closures. Surrounding jurisdictions, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., had already canceled in-person instruction for the rest of the year.