Principals at all levels of the school system are working to notify families that their students can return to school for either two or four days per week of in-person instruction – something that will occur for some students as early as Monday – in the wake of a decision by the Board of Education to give “reasonably flexible consideration to recommended distancing practices listed in the CDC guidelines.”

The Board’s position, adopted late Wednesday night, sets an expectation for Superintendent George Arlotto to prioritize in-person learning needs while employing creative approaches to COVID-19 safety. That will result in more students in classrooms than has been the case. It will also place more students on buses and, in many cases, multiple students in a single bus seat.

Information on the new protocols was conveyed to principals across the county yesterday. The focus for principals will be on those families who indicated on a pair of recent AACPS surveys that they wanted their children to return to hybrid settings.

The Board made clear in adopting its motion that it was not directing Dr. Arlotto to rescind COVID-related accommodations for teachers and other staff or restricting his authority to do so. Classroom staffing challenges and similar issues related to the number of midday monitors, who supervise students in school buildings when teachers are on their lunch or planning periods, could prevent some students from returning to classrooms depending upon the specific circumstances at each school.

“While there are still some barriers to returning students to in-person learning, principals have been told clearly that, as a result of the Board’s decision, the number of desks in a classroom and the number of students on a bus will no longer be among them,” Dr. Arlotto said. “This is the next phase of reopening, and we will accomplish it as quickly as we possibly can.”

One other noticeable change for families will be in bus schedules. Because more students will be transported to and from school, buses will resume the schedules established for the March 1, 2021, return of students, which can be found at The county’s three Monarch schools contract their own buses and will communicate any changes directly to families.

Schedules for students who remain in fully virtual instruction will not change.

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