The Board of Education on Feb. 9 voted 5-2 to enter Phase 2 of its reopening plan on March 22 saying the school system needs more time to allow staff to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.
Earlier in the Board of Education’s monthly meeting, Superintendent Kimberly Hill recommended to the Board to start Phase 2 on March 1. Hill, along with Health Officer Dianna Abney from the Charles County Department of Health, discussed the protocols and safety of incrementally bringing back students to in-person learning.
In preparation for beginning Phase 2, Hill announced she planned to have all staff return to schools and offices on Feb. 22. Many employees have been teleworking since March 2020 when schools initially closed due to COVID-19. Staff will still return Feb. 22 regardless of the later start date for students, Hill said.
Phase 2 includes special populations of students. There are 2,541 students whose parents have indicated to Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) that their children will return to in-person learning in Phase 2. CCPS identified 7,256 students eligible to return in Phase 2, and provided parents a choice for in-person or virtual learning for their children.
Students in Phase 2 include:
- Students receiving special education services;
- English Learners (EL) students;
- Students who have a 504 plan;
- Students who do not have internet access at home;
- Students who are homeless or displaced/living in foster care;
- Students who are children of CCPS employees; and
- High school juniors and seniors enrolled in the following Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses.
- Robert D. Stethem Educational Center: Virtual Academy (Grades 10-12), Automotive Technician, Academy of Health Professions Pharmacy Technician, Academy of Health Professions Physical Rehabilitation, and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC).
- North Point High School: Automotive Technician, Collision Repair, Academy of Health Professions Certified Nursing Assistant, Construction Design and Management, Electrical Construction, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts (ACF), Manufacturing and Welding.
- Henry E. Lackey High School: ProStart program
- Maurice J. McDonough High School: Dance program (all students)
- All high schools: Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI) program
Superintendent Kimberly Hill said the goal has always been to safely and responsibly bring children back to school for in-person learning. Phase 2, she said, provides opportunities to provide a more meaningful education for children who are not thriving in the virtual environment or who do not have reliable internet connectivity at home. She said teachers and students are working hard and doing their best, but virtual learning is not working for many children.
Hill said she was disappointed with the Board’s decision to delay Phase 2.
There are five phases in the CCPS reopening plan. Each phase includes additional student populations eligible to return to in-person learning. Parents have the option of continuing virtual education for their child throughout the 2020-21 school year.
The CCPS reopening plan is posted on the school system website.