BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City is preparing to reopen about 25 of its schools next month.
On November 9, they plan to open separate public day schools and specific pre-K and kindergarten programs.
On November 16, they plan to open additional traditional and charter schools.
During a virtual meeting Thursday, Baltimore City Schools officials walked parents, teachers and staff through its new safety measures and plans in case someone were to contract COVID-19.
At the same time, an overwhelming number of teachers and advocates said they’re worried the district is moving too fast.
“Our responsibility is to all students in the school district, and all families, and that includes those for whom virtual learning is not working,” Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises said.
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Dr. Santelises said the district will prioritize bringing back students with disabilities, English language learners, homeless students and the district’s youngest students.
The school system said it will implement a number of new safety measures including improved air filtration and purifiers in the classrooms, health screenings, face coverings and social distancing.
Anyone who exhibits symptoms associated with COVID-19 will be required to quarantine and there is full-time staff hired to do contact tracing.
During a virtual public forum Thursday night, teachers and community members shared concerns about how to enforce the new health measures.
“I am embarrassed that you would even consider teachers and students coming into in-person learning again when you, yourselves, the governing board, will not even meet in person,” an attendee of the forum said.
“They are worried about my health and my safety and whether or not everything is going to be okay if I go back,” another attendee said.
A few parents also spoke or submitted testimony about the challenges of at-home distance learning.
“As a single mother with three kids, it’s impossible to assist them at all,” one parent said.
According to the district’s latest poll, 50% of families want to remain virtual for the rest of the semester. Dr. Santelises said that they will be able to do that.
She said by reopening some schools, this will at least give families a choice about what kind of learning they want for their children.