Anne Arundel County Public Schools will engage in virtual learning for the entire first semester of the 2020-2021 school year under a plan Superintendent George Arlotto will review with the Board of Education at a public meeting on Wednesday, July 22.
Dr. Arlotto made the decision after numerous conversations with Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, with AACPS employees and students, with superintendents throughout Maryland, and after reviewing results of the recent AACPS family and employee surveys.
“We all want students to be back in our buildings, but there are very real concerns about returning to those settings in September for us and for a significant portion of our families and our employees,” Dr. Arlotto said. “What carries the most weight for me, however, is the data and the science. I have been communicating with Dr. Kalyanaraman regularly and his advice to me is that, given the current state of the pandemic and the fact that Maryland remains in Stage 2 of its Road to Recovery, the best course of action is to begin the year virtually.”
The Board will hear from Dr. Arlotto and Dr. Kalyanaraman from Dr. Arlotto at the July 22 meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast live on AACPS-TV, which can be found on Channel 96 on Comcast and Broadstripe, and Channel 36 on Verizon. High definition broadcasts can be seen on Channel 996 on Comcast, Channel 496 on Broadstripe, and Channel 1961 on Verizon. It will also be broadcast live on AACPS’ YouTube channel.
Members of the 14 AACPS committees – which include employees from all units, parents, community members, students, and school system partners – examining the variety of issues related to the reopening of schools will now focus their efforts exclusively on a virtual learning environment. That work has and will continue to include development of a more robust eTeaching model than existed in the spring and one that will contain more real-time instruction from teachers for students. It will also include the creation of a virtual orientation program for families later in the summer to help them become better accustomed to eTeaching.
AACPS also is continuing to acquire computer devices as it moves to an arrangement where every student has a Chromebook and all teachers have laptops from which they can deliver instruction and virtually meet with students. The school system had 45,000 Chromebooks on hand in March, has received and/or ordered 45,000 more, and will purchase more devices to have on hand in schools when they reopen as additional funding becomes available or is identified.
Other key points of the reopening plan, which is still being fully developed, will be posted online at the conclusion of the Board meeting. Public input on the plan will be accepted through Friday, July 31. Comments can be submitted to [email protected], or delivered by mail or in person to the Carol S. Parham Building at 2644 Riva Road, Annapolis, MD 21401.
A final plan will be developed and sent, as required, to the Maryland State Department of Education by August 14. That plan will be posted online and sent via regular communication methods to all families and employees.