BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ) — Harford County Public Schools announced they would have elementary students return to in-person learning once a week starting March 1, followed by secondary students on March 15.

This comes after Gov. Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon asked that all school return to some form of hybrid learning by March 1.

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Harford County Public Schools reviewed the updated guidance from the state on how to best reopen schools.

Parents or guardians will be contacted by their child’s school for their child’s assigned one day per week.

“Due to the updated state expectations in the “Maryland School Reopening Guidance,” we are not able to reinstate operations of our Learning Support Centers and our Fall Hybrid Model, which means that previous accommodations for students will not be reinstated,” school officials said in an announcement. “Our return to in-person learning plan, previously approved by MSDE, is updated and will continue to guide us moving forward.”

Review the updated HCPS Continuity of Learning Plan here. 

Here are some other things of note:

  • All elementary staff essential to the return of students, as well as secondary Life Skills and Strive teachers and staff, will be required to report to their physical work sites to perform their required duties on February 19, 2021.
  • All secondary staff essential to the return of students will be required to report to their physical work sites to perform their required duties on March 5, 2021.
  • Meal kit pick-up locations will continue to operate on Fridays. Visit HCPS Food Services on our website for additional information and updates on meal kit pick-up locations.
    *Students attending Technology Hubs at North Harford High School will return to their home school effective March 1, 2021. These students will continue to attend in-person, in their home school, on their current daily schedule.

Schools will require face masks, physical distancing, frequent handwashing and other measures to protect both students and staff from COVID-19.

A number of parents said virtual learning has been hard on their children and are looking forward to getting them back into the classroom. Others said they will keep their kids learning from home because of pre-existing health conditions or family needs.

Nicole Hayes wants her three kids in the classroom as much as possible.

“Every day we wait, the divide grows,” she said. “Every day my kid is not in school, there is a kid in Pennsylvania and Florida and Georgia in school.”

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Hayes wants to see Harford County schools model what has worked elsewhere to get students back in school.

“We can’t we take what they’ve done and mimic it? We’re not reinventing the wheel,” she said.

Caryn Ches said she understands the slow return and that other families may have different views.

“If you feel your child being home is the safest for you and your family, then by all means that’s what you need to do, but some parents want their kids in school and with other children,” she said.

The state Board of Education met to discuss the challenges students, staff members and families have faced as the country navigates the pandemic.

Enrollment in public schools has dropped, state schools Superintendent Karen Salmon said.

Rachel McCuscker, a Carroll County teacher and education representative on the board, said many teachers want to be back in the classroom as well but not before they feel it’s safe to do so.

“We want to be with our students, teaching them in the most effective way in our safe schools,” she said.

Learn more about Harford County Public Schools’ reopening plan here.

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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.

Rachael Cardin