BALTIMORE (WJZ) — During a roundtable virtual event hosted by the Downtown Partnership Tuesday, Dr. Sonja Santelises, the CEO of Baltimore City Schools, discussed the preparations it took for learning to return this fall.

While the fall semester started off online, Dr. Santelises discussed what a return to in-person learning will look like.

“Folks should anticipate options for families to come back in small groups,” she said.

It’s a move echoed by Maryland’s Schools Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon, who said in September, “We’re going to start to see an increase of the number of students who are getting back to school.”


However, during a rally last week, members of the Baltimore Teacher’s Union voiced their concerns.

“I am not confident that the district has what it needs in order to ensure my children’s safety,” said Patrice Pilgrim.

But Santelises said they’ve worked hard on a return to both virtual and in-person learning.

They’ve provided teachers with more training, announced a new round of device distribution and purchased 10,000 hotspots. Even with devices and internet access, some families are struggling with the technology.

“If you’re not sure how to maneuver the device, how to actually log on, we’re finding that’s just as big a barrier,” she cautioned.

Santelises also described what the school district has done to its buildings to ensure they are safe when students return.

“We’ve had to invest in air filters and air purifiers and personal protective equipment,” she said, “and so all of that comes at a cost.”

But a worthwhile expense, she said, to ensure the safety of their teachers, staff and students.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos