When this school year began back in 2019, no one could have envisioned how it would end.
Over the last several months, schools in Maryland and around the country have been shuttered and districts have had to move to an online distance-learning method in order to deliver instruction.
Recently, we spoke with officials at the Cecil County Public School District about the strides they have made to ensure students get the best possible education under the circumstances. While not perfect, their solutions have been outstanding and the leadership at CCPS, beginning with Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Lawson has handle the crisis extremely well under the circumstances.
First, the district got out ahead of the problem and began looking for solutions before the Maryland Department of Education made the decision to close schools. They began by organizing a plan and then developing strategies to execute the plan.
One of their solutions included helping students and their families to obtain the necessary tools to be able to continue the students’ educational opportunities at home. The “homework gap” an ongoing problem around the country for those students without computer or internet access became an immediate issue in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. In order to help with the problem, the district provided around 5,000 devices and a number of hotspots to help connect students and parents to teachers in the virtual classroom.
The district also worked to get teachers up to speed on the technology and how to teach classes in an online forum, and the end results have been impressive. While long-distance learning is not a long-term solution, the idea that our schools can now adjust quickly to an online forum if necessary is promising.
Next week, this year’s senior class will reach an important milestone in life. Unlike previous classes however, the Class of 2020 will be looking at a very different graduation than their parents or grandparents. While virtual graduations are not ideal, again the district stepped up and came up with comprehensive plans on how to resolve the issue. Each school worked hard to develop a plan with the goal to allow every senior the opportunity to walk across the stage and receive their diploma. In a perfect world they would do so in the traditional way, but 2020 has been anything but traditional.