July 20, 2020
City Schools Announces Reopening Plan
Greetings City Schools students, families, and friends,
The past four months have been unlike anything we have experienced before in Baltimore City Public Schools. We closed school buildings to slow the spread of a global pandemic, and the heavy use of online learning and video contact with teachers forced each of us to adjust in ways we never dreamed. I am grateful for all your support and willingness to fight alongside us to make sure each student has an opportunity to continue their learning.
I know you have been eager for answers about what your child’s routines will look like once school begins in just a few weeks. As both the mother of City Schools students and a life-long educator, I know how important it is that students and teachers safely return to school buildings this fall. Schools are unique and dynamic places that are critical to the growth and development of our children.
All schools in the district will open the 2020-2021 school year virtually, delaying the start of the hybrid in-person option until later this fall. Providing a hybrid learning option remains our goal. However, feedback in the surveys, polls, and virtual town halls made clear that while many families are interested in an in-person option, there is also discomfort among students and families with moving directly to reopening in August.
Also, the calendar for students may change. I am proposing to the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners that the first day of school for students is Tuesday, Sept. 8, following the Labor Day weekend, to allow additional time before the start of the school year for professional learning for staff. This change would require approval by the Board, so this decision is not yet final.
We will assess the need to bring in small groups of students, as necessary, during the virtual learning period this fall.
City Schools strongly believes some form of in-person learning is critical for a student’s academic success, mental health, and emotional well-being. However, we do not want to rush to act based on your recent feedback as well as health trends in our community and nationally. This moment is a vital time, and preparation for students and families is important. We will keep you updated about what a hybrid in-person learning experience could look like and the health safeguards that would be in place.
Please rest assured that when it is time to transition to a hybrid in-person learning option, there will be a comprehensive and thorough plan to return in place as well as opportunities to orient families and students to what safe in-person learning could look like for their student. As a parent, that is what I would expect to occur, and that is what our students deserve.
Please continue to listen to our phone messages, read our emails, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, visit www.baltimorecityschools.org, and work directly with your schools over the next few weeks to learn how you can prepare for the online-learning launch. We also are sharing very important information about how you may receive meals, internet access, and computers. If your student attends a charter school, some of your options for help may be different; contact your school directly for more information.
And we want to continue to hear from you. Stay tuned for updates about our Family Virtual Town Halls, surveys, polls, and more at www.baltimorecityschools.org/reopening.
The 2020-21 school year will be different for everyone, and we must be prepared to adjust and respond as needed at any given moment. We know we are asking more of you than ever before. But with your cooperation and shared sacrifice, together, we will help our children thrive.
Together with you,
Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises Chief Executive Officer Baltimore City Public Schools