TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County Public Schools will close school buildings next Monday and Tuesday to allow teachers to prepare lessons in the event their schools switch to virtual learning, according to a letter to staff from Superintendent Darryl Williams, administrators and union leaders.

The school system’s Division of Curriculum and Instruction has prepared learning activities focused on science, social studies, math and language arts for students to complete on Jan. 10-11. The lessons will be available on the Schoology platform.

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“We are providing this planning time to all teachers now to minimize disruption should an individual school have to temporarily shift to virtual instruction,” the authors wrote.

In-person instruction will resume on Jan. 12.

Under current protocols, the school system can fully or partially close schools and switch them to virtual learning if 5% or more of students, teachers and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days.

Students at schools that switch have two days of independent learning before live instruction begins, but the school system wants to eliminate that two-day period and begin live instruction immediately.

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As of Jan. 5, nine elementary schools, five middle schools, 10 high schools and one special school had shifted to virtual learning. Another seven schools were partially closed.

The school system had said it is committed to remaining open, and will only return entirely to virtual instruction if required by local or state government.

On Monday, all school staff can get tested at middle schools across the county from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the school system said. And the school system will distribute 126,000 test kits to staff and students on Tuesday. The district said it is expecting another order of tests to arrive on Friday, Jan. 14.

The school system began distributing KN95 masks earlier this week, and another 54,000 child-size masks have been ordered, according to the letter.

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“We understand this is a tremendously uncertain and difficult time for members of Team BCPS,” the authors wrote. “We want to assure you that we are all in agreement that closing school buildings is the absolute last resort.”

CBS Baltimore Staff