ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland school officials are asking local districts to finalize their plans for distance learning as they wait to make a decision about schools closing through the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
They did not make any official decisions about schools closing on the teleconference Tuesday.
Maryland schools will receive $207 million from the U.S. Department of Education to help pay for expenses and programs during the pandemic.
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State school superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon said 90% of the money will be used to pay for expenses schools have incurred since March 13, 2020, when schools closed in the state.
The state will work with local school systems to make sure funds are dispersed as needed.
“To ensure we have a level of consistency in the continuity of plans for each local school system” their plans must be submitted for approval,” she said. “That [plan] must include their distance learning platform, the technology they have available and how the students who don’t have access to the device or the internet” will learn.
The plans will also describe the roles and responsibilities of school administrators, instructional assistants, students, and parents.
“They have to include a sample teacher and student day, a plan of accountability is to be included and should identify how they will monitor and access student performance,” Salmon added.
They must also describe how their school system plans to address equity, including special education, English learners, homeless students, students with academic needs and gifted students. They must also determine how teachers and staff will continue professional development and what resources will be available to students and teachers.
The school district has laid out some overall guidance and plans on their website along with some tips on how to help students in rural or low-income communities access the internet.
For example, in Cecil County, they are buying TMobile hotspots and putting them on buses. They are then driving the buses into areas with limited coverage.
Some school systems are sending packages with postage paid so they can be returned to teachers, the state said. Others are allowing students to park outside the schools and use that as a hotspot.
Schools also reviewed how they will handle things like graduation credits, attendance and more and put that in an FAQ on the state schools’ website.
Also, schools will continue to provide meals to students in the interim. Salmon said hundreds of thousands of meals have been served to children so far.