Baltimore City Public Schools will delay the launch of the next phase of expanded optional in-person learning in the second semester until the first two weeks of March 2021. This prudent step will allow schools and staff the best opportunity to prepare for in-person learning and connect with families about this opportunity.
The new start dates are as follows:
Families may decide whether to participate in in-person learning or remain in virtual learning. For charter and contract schools, visit our charter schools page to see which schools will be opting into each phase of in-person learning, and visit your school’s website to review specific in-person learning plans.
The additional time will allow City Schools to support the critical steps needed to prepare for in-person learning.
Families should directly contact their schools to learn more or express interest in participating in in-person learning.
For general questions about optional in-person learning opportunities for the second semester, please review our helpful FAQ below.
We’ve taken a cautious, phased-in approach based on our health experts’ advice with more than 2,000 students already benefitting from in-person instruction that fits their needs in a safe learning environment that meets and exceeds the CDC’s five mitigation strategies. To learn more about our Health and Safety Procedures, including air ventilation efforts, visit our Health and Safety Webpage.
What are the new optional in-person sites?
For traditional and transformation schools, all elementary/middle schools and high schools will host optional in-person learning sites for students in kindergarten through 5th grade, 9th grade, and high school seniors. At traditional schools, all other grade levels will continue with virtual learning. For charter and contract schools, please visit your school's website to see what grade levels will be served.
When do the new in-person learning sites open?
Are students required to participate in optional in-person learning?
No. Families may choose in-person learning or continue with virtual learning, but do not have to make a choice immediately. We understand that many families may initially opt to remain virtual. However, as we earn trust and confidence, we believe more families will choose the in-person option.
Are charter or operator-led schools included in this list?
Transformation schools are included on this list. For charter and contract schools, please visit your school's website to see their plans.
How do I enroll my student in optional in-person learning sites?
Check with your school to express interest in attending an in-person learning option.
Why are you reopening more schools for more grade levels while infection rates remain high?
What was the process to select the additional in-person sites? How were the returning student populations identified?
Is there a possibility, based on response rates, that school leaders or district leadership would decide not to open some in-person learning sites or specific grades in some schools based on a lack of family interest in in-person instruction at that sch
Our experience in the summer and fall demonstrates that families show increased interest when observing safe in-person learning at their school. Yes, it is possible that sign up for some classrooms may be small enough in some cases that City Schools decides it does not make sense to open that classroom. It is unlikely that all in-person options at school would be closed due to low interest.
Will families be required to sign a compact regarding health risks?
Yes, families who choose to participate in in-person learning will be required to sign a consent form and COVID-19 acknowledgment statement. The purpose of the form is to ensure families are well-informed about in-person learning environments and for them to acknowledge our health and safety procedures.
What type of health screening will occur on a daily basis?
Anyone who enters a school will have their temperature taken and will fill be asked a series of questions before being allowed to enter.
Is there an infection rate threshold that will prevent you from opening more schools?
City Schools collaborates with the Baltimore City Health Department and the district Health Advisory Committee when considering in-person learning opportunities during the pandemic. These experts advise that we can host small group learning opportunities safely with proper protocols. To learn more about those protocols, visit our Health and Safety webpage.
How will you use public health data to inform school reopening status? Are there any conditions where City Schools would reconsider shutting back down? What are those levels and thresholds of safety?
City Schools leadership meets weekly with the Baltimore City Health Department to review community transmission rates and City Schools' internal data on COVID-19. District leaders will consider adjusting in-person learning offerings based on the guidance of our local health department.
Why not wait until a vaccine is available before opening more optional in-person learning sites?
City Schools is developing its vaccination plan for teachers and staff and welcomes the vaccine as part of our health and safety strategy as it becomes available. However, there are numerous other aspects to our health and safety plan, including all five of the CDC's mitigation strategies for schools and daily, on-site testing for staff and students who show symptoms. Our current health and safety measures provide a safe learning environment that allows students to engage in in-person learning, as we have done since the summer. The best place for students to learn is in classrooms as long as proper precautions are used to keep students and staff safe. We can't wait for the complete rollout of the vaccine to ensure students who need it have access to in-person learning.
Where are the safety procedures, and where may I find them?
City Schools publishes its health procedures and related information on its Health and Safety Webpage. The webpage includes the district Standard Operating Procedures (Health and Safety Guide) as well as resources and a FAQ.
How are you tracking COVID-19 cases across City Schools?
Will I know if a COVID-19 case occurs at my optional in-person learning site?
City Schools will notify staff or families at that site in writing if an individual in a classroom pod tests positive for COVID-19 or if a classroom closure is required. Close contacts of the individual will be notified and subject to quarantine. The case will be noted on the district's COVID-19 dashboard.
Will on-site COVID-19 testing be available at the optional in-person learning sites?
As part of our health and safety plan, City Schools provides free, daily, on-site COVID-19 testing at schools for any staff or students experiencing COVID-like symptoms. Results from this testing will be provided to City Schools and the impacted staff member or affected student's family.
How will classroom pods be implemented at the new in-person learning sites for elementary grades?
A distinct group, sometimes referred to as a classroom pod, bubble, or a cohort, is a group of students that stays together throughout an entire school day during in-person classroom instruction. Each educator will be assigned to a classroom pod. At times staff will work with other classroom pods. This will occur in a manner that prevents linking more than two cohorts by allowing 48 hours between interactions with different cohorts.
How will staff and families know that buildings/classrooms are ready to receive staff and students?
What type of safety equipment is available? Will you have adequate supplies at every optional in-person learning site?
To date, City Schools has purchased more than $4 million worth of masks, desk shields, face shields, and cleaning products - (soap, sanitizer, wipes, spray bottles, soap and sanitizer dispensers, gloves, paper towels, and gowns). Another $5.4 million was used to support building ventilation that meets health standards. These health and safety supplies and equipment will be available at all in-person sites.
Do all schools have soap and hand sanitizer?
Yes. In the past, some schools have not had adequate supplies of soap and sanitizer. However, since the pandemic's onset, City Schools has centralized responsibility for ordering and supplying critical health and safety supplies to ensure each campus has sufficient supplies of soap and hand sanitizer and ample supplies available for replenishment.
What is the plan for transportation? Will students ride the bus? How will you ensure social distancing?
Will all optional in-person learning sites have the same offerings?
For traditional and transformation schools, core offerings will be consistent to ensure grade-level expectations are being met. However, schedules and format may shift to allow flexibility based on staffing, size of the school, and cohort requirements. These shifts could include a blend of in-person and virtual that comprises both asynchronous and synchronous opportunities. For charter and contract schools, please check with your school to understand their offerings.
Will extra supports be provided for students with learning disabilities?
Students with disabilities will continue to receive their modifications or accommodations identified on their Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan. Additional supports will be provided if needed as determined through the IEP or 504 teams.
Will my student have the same teacher in-person as they did in virtually learning?
Ideally, we want every child to continue with the same teacher until the end of the year. However, there may be instances when classes need to be changed to accommodate in-person learning. For example, some schools may split teaching responsibilities between some teachers teaching in-person only and others teaching virtually only. This staffing approach could result in shifts in a student's teacher.
Will there be extracurricular activities? What's the plan for athletics?
How will meals be provided?
Students will pick up pre-packaged meals at staggered meal times from the cafeteria or designated locations, ensuring proper social distancing, hygiene, and food safety protocols. Students can eat meals in the classroom, cafeteria (using staggered spacing), or outdoors if weather permits. Meals will continue to be available for pickup for virtual learners at more than 80 sites throughout the district.
Will in-person students attend classes on Wednesdays?
Wednesdays are utilized for small-group instruction from K-8 and Lab Wednesdays for High Schools. Both will continue into the second semester.
Will I be able to see my child's classroom?
Schools are currently developing plans to host families interested in in-person learning for open-house events. Please contact your school for more details.
What will be the grading system? Will it change?
Will the school year be lengthened?
Currently, there are no plans to lengthen the school year. Additionally, our plan for Summer 2021 is being developed to identify students and grade bands most impacted by distance learning.
Why is City Schools starting opportunities for high school seniors so late in the school year?
In general, the delay will provide City Schools and its campuses the time necessary to prepare to host high school students for a regular day. This includes establishing expanded COVID-19 testing by mid-April that focuses on high schools.
In our high schools, we are prioritizing optional in-person learning opportunities for ninth-grade students. The transition from middle to high school is always difficult for this group. This school year, we are further challenged because there has been no space to build in-person relationships between the students and the school and teachers. Also, many students are struggling with their attendance and grades.
High school schedules are notoriously complex. As we began detailed planning for optional in-person learning opportunities, we determined the most effective means is to start with just one grade level. We chose to offer optional in-person opportunities to ninth-grade students first and safely, then focus on 12th graders, as well as 10th and 11th graders.
When and how will staff be notified about when they will return to work?
How did you decide what employees are required to return?
In order to support in-person programming, employees with duties that support K-5 students, 9th-grade students, and 12th-grade students were selected to return. In addition, any other staff members at schools that support students in the in-person environment will be required to return.
What if a returning teacher has a pre-existing health condition that puts them at higher risk for COVID-19?
We understand that some staff members may be less prepared or able to return on-site. Some may be eligible for leave or accommodations due to their personal, family, or health circumstances. We will take staff members' situations into consideration as much as possible. Staff members who believe they are eligible for leave or who would like to request a reasonable accommodation should do so. All requests will be evaluated on an individual basis. Click here for leave information or here for accommodation requests.
Will there be a reminder regarding what employees are required to return to work and their responsibilities?
Yes. Employees that are required to return to work will be notified directly by the Human Capital office.
If my school opens, do I have to teach virtually and in person?
It is likely that some educators will have to provide support both virtually (synchronously and asynchronously) and in-person. Schedules and formats need to be flexible based on staffing, size of the school, and cohort requirements. This is to ensure students receive core offerings and instructional expectations are being met. Based on feedback, we will provide a sample schedule, and principals will work with their teams to best support this effort.
Teacher: If my school reopens, may I opt out?
What happens if a teacher has symptoms or enters quarantine? Does the entire classroom shutdown?
If a student or staff member who has been on-site for in-person learning has COVID-like symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, the entire pod will enter quarantine if any individual has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. While few members of a pod will actually be close contacts given social distancing protocols, City Schools takes this additional precaution anytime a member of the pod has symptoms or tests positive.
Will guidance or preparation be provided to teachers about in-person instruction? Will safety guidance be provided?
Will staff be notified if there's a COVID-19 case at their school but not in their classroom?
Yes. Staff members at a school will be notified of COVID-19 cases in writing. This general advisory notice is provided to all staff members, even though any quarantine requirements will only apply to close contacts and members of the same pod.
Can resource teachers/specials teachers/therapists teach remotely from home or a classroom?
Educators supporting multiple cohorts will likely need to provide a blend of in-person and virtual instruction to ensure there is limited close contact and no more than two classroom cohorts are not linked. This will include virtual instruction from both their classroom and remotely as needed depending on their schedules and classroom space usage.
Is City Schools declining to extend COVID-19 sick leave past January? Does this mean staff will have to use sick leave?
City Schools offers one of the most extensive benefits packages available anywhere in the country, including paid time off. From April to December 2020, City Schools implemented certain, additional leave provisions included in federal legislation covering that time period. On its own initiative, City Schools extended these leave provisions for one month in January 2021. Continuing in February and beyond, City Schools will grant additional, paid leave to employees who are instructed to quarantine for a reason other than their own sickness and to employees who have COVID-like symptoms when there has been a COVID case at their work site. In other cases where employees are sick, they should use the sick leave time allocated for this purpose. No employee should ever report to work sick. Staff members who choose to participate in the sick bank may also make a request to the sick bank if needed.
Will teachers have observations and SLOs while returning to in-person learning?
All teachers in Maryland must be evaluated every year. Each year, City Schools mutually agrees with the teachers union on the components of the teacher evaluation, which this year includes observations, student learning objectives, and professional expectations ratings. This year, observations may include either or both virtual and in-person instruction, and this will continue through the spring semester. One exception to this is the new opportunity City Schools chose to provide this year to nearly 2,000 of our veteran, effective teachers to opt out of observations and carry forward those ratings from last year.