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Baltimore City Public Schools COVID-19 Response FAQ

The Maryland State Department of Education has closed public school buildings through Friday, April 24. All school building activities, including school day instruction, child care, health services, enrichment, athletics and club sports, preschool, etc. are canceled until further notice. Distribution of learning materials and emergency meal services are occurring on some school campuses as necessary.

Will the central office be open during the closure?

The central office, the Dr. Alice G. Pinderhughes Administrative Building, is closed to the public until further notice. Staff will continue the district operations remotely during this period and expected to continue to work during the school closure to support distance learning, continue communications, and support educators, school leaders, families, and students.

How will City Schools be keeping families, staff, and students informed regarding Coronavirus?

City Schools is providing updates daily through its Health Updates website – www.baltimorecityschools.org/health-updates. The district is also sending regular emails to families and staff to provide the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. This is a rapidly evolving situation. 

The district continues to follow the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Baltimore City Health Department in our response to COVID -19, including decisions to close schools and whether students or staff would need to be quarantined. As soon as new information becomes available, we will let you know.

In the event a school will need to close, families will receive notifications similar to weather-related closures, through call, email, and SMS messages. Please make sure your contact information is up to date at your child’s school.

With the closure of school buildings, are there any updates for the school choice process?

The Updated Choice application deadline has been extended to April 27. Decision letters will be mailed by May 15. Please be advised that if you do not select a middle or high school option, your child will be assigned a school by the Office of Enrollment, Choice, and Transfer for the 2020-21 school year.

If you did not submit a choice application in January or would like a change in your placement from the first round of the choice process, please complete an updated choice application. The application can be mailed to 200 E. North Ave, Enrollment Choice and Transfers, Baltimore, MD 21202 or emailedIf you do not have access to download, print, or email the updated application, please call 410-396-8600. 

When will the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten enrollment occur?

Due to the school building closure period, the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten enrollment period for Baltimore City Public Schools will be delayed. Currently, the district is considering alternative methods to support enrollment while keeping families safe. Additional information will be available the week of April 28.

Learning Resources and Student Supports

How are you providing continued learning supports?

While schools are closed, we expect learning to continue. Beginning April 6, City Schools will use learning methods to ensure each of our students has access to a standards-aligned experience. We are also collaborating closely with other K-12 school districts across the state to share ideas, resources, and learning materials to provide all of our students with the academic supports they need.

This new paradigm, characterized as “open for remote learning,” is a challenge – both for our students, their families and for us as a district. We are dramatically changing the way we deliver instruction – in real time – while we do our best to help our students adjust to those changes.
 

What will occur beginning the week of April 6?

  • Distance learning will begin with students engaging in learning based on their needs.
  • Students will be able to access daily reading and math lessons on two educational access channels via cable television – City Schools TV and Charm TV, the city’s access channel. Each day, both stations will air a schedule of lessons in reading, math, and science for grades K-8. A schedule of lessons will be shared on the City Schools website.
  • They will also have access to those lessons online, in addition to other resources.
  • Teachers will engage students and families on many different platforms, including Google classroom. Teachers and school leaders are undergoing training to use this technology most effectively.
  • Every Monday during the closure period, students will be able to pick up work packets at the district’s 18 meal sites.

In addition to all of these activities, we are encouraging principals and teachers to reach out to families and students who ask for assistance.

Where may I access district-level learning packets issued before April 6

From March 16 to March 31, City Schools students were issued learning packets to supplement learning while schools are closed. Visit our learning packets page (hyperlink), find your grade level, and click the link to download the voluntary lessons. 

What does ongoing, remote learning look like for full-time working parents?

We genuinely understand how challenging it is right now for parents who are expected to work from home to also support their child’s learning. We want to provide adequate support, guidance, and structure, while still providing enough flexibility to accommodate the realities of the situation, many of us are navigating. In many cases, learning doesn’t need to occur during “work hours”; it could also happen over the weekend or in the evening.

What is the plan for the distribution of technology supports? How will supports be communicated?

City Schools is working on a plan to distribute laptops and other technology devices to support student learning. We are also working with the business community and philanthropy to identify additional supports. Details of this effort will be shared the week of April 13.

What if I need technology assistance?

  • Many families need help with food and online learning, while school buildings are closed. City Schools is conducting a short survey to help us determine your food and technology needs. Please complete a brief survey at bit.ly/33PgCB6.
  • We have more than 15,000 district-owned Chromebooks that are in schools. Using our survey results and ongoing communication with our schools and families, we will be working to ensure this technology is appropriate for deployment, and loan them out to families as needed.
  • We will continue to identify ways to increase the availability of devices —either refurbished or new. As you can imagine, school districts nationwide are seeking Chromebooks and other devices, creating high levels of demand and resulting in a shortage of these products.   
  • We are also investigating the suitability of using smartphones, tablets, and household devices to complete online learning activities.
  • We are exploring ideas with internet providers and partners who are thinking creatively about ways to support wireless access.

Check out our flyer here: English | Spanish

Student Food Support

How will students receive meals during the closure?

Starting Monday, March 30 through Friday, April 24, City Schools is providing grab-n-go meals to all Baltimore children and youth (18 and under) at 18 meal sites. The meals will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and children and adults can each receive four meals/person.

Check out our emergency meals webpage for more information.

Supporting our Baltimore Community

How will City Schools be keeping families, staff, and students informed regarding Coronavirus and information related to the closure?

SPS is sending regular, if not daily, emails to families and staff to provide the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19, and the district website and school sites are updated daily.

As soon as new information becomes available, families will receive notifications similar to weather-related closures, through call, email, and SMS messages. Please make sure your contact information is up to date at your child’s school. Staff has been asked to check their work email daily.

How can parents and the community support healthy communities during this time?

Health

If regular hand washing isn’t possible, the next best option is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or sanitizer wipes, with 60% alcohol. Continue to encourage regular handwashing at home and good hygiene habits.

Child care

Child care and coverage for working parents will be a challenge. If you are able, offer to watch other people’s children (while practicing proper social distancing).

Look out for each other

Some of our community members are more vulnerable to COVID-19, including individuals who are over 60, pregnant, or have a pre-existing medical condition. Help our loved ones and neighbors by offering to grocery shop and provide other assistance as needed.

What steps is the district taking to disrupt the spread of COVID-19?

We have started the process of canceling or rescheduling some events that bring large groups of students, adults, and community members together. This includes, but is not limited to, significant school community events, school day assemblies, all student travel, and activities outside of school hours (i.e. overnight field trips and competitions). All district-and-school sponsored out-of-state and international travel has been canceled through June 15.

Public Health Information

What are the procedures and instructions for students to wash their hands (even while at home)?

We are encouraging families to continue to prioritize student handwashing at home. Handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to contain the spread of illness and disease, including COVID-19. Learn more about handwashing and proper technique by watching this video.

What is the guidance from the Baltimore City Health Department?

We know there are many questions about the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Please visit the BCHD website for the latest guidance from public health.

The simple actions below are among the most effective to avoid illness.

  • Stay at home and avoid all non-essential contact with others.
  • Limit trips for groceries, gas, and other essentials.
  • If you must go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others at all times.
  • Wash your hands frequently, and don’t touch your face.
  • If you have not been in close contact with a sick person with COVID-19, you are at low risk for infection.

You generally need to be in close contact with a sick person to get infected. Close contact includes:

  • Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19,
  • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19,
  • Being within 6 feet of an infected person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes, OR
  • Being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.)

What should I do if I was in close contact with someone with COVID-19 while they were ill, but I am not sick?

Please contact your medical provider for specific guidance. In general, you should monitor your health for fever, cough, and respiratory problems during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. You should not go to work and should avoid public places for 14 days.

What should I do if I am a close contact to someone with COVID-19 and get sick?

If you get sick with fever, cough, or respiratory problems (even if your symptoms are very mild), you likely have COVID-19. You should isolate yourself at home and away from other people and contact your health care provider.

How is City Schools making decisions?

BCHD is the lead agency in our community’s COVID-19 response, and City Schools plays an essential role in providing stability and safety for our region.

CEO Sonja Brookins Santelises has been working in daily partnership with Baltimore City Health Department and officials from the city, county, and state and other superintendents to assess and respond to new information. Having a seat at the table ensures our voices are heard and included in decisions that impact all of us.

What if I want to donate?

If you would like to donate to City Schools to support our efforts to ensure schools and families have the resources they need during this time of school closure, please go to www.ffee.org/donate.

Are there any updates about pre-kindergarten and kindergarten enrollment?

To date, no decision has been made regarding the enrollment process. As more is known about the ultimate length of the closure period, updates will be shared with the public.