By Max McGee

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Students in Baltimore County won’t be in school to start the week. The District is closed January 10-11. It’s being called a temporary transition to virtual learning in Baltimore County.

Taking the two days off was part of the contract the Teachers Union agreed to, to give staff the time needed to prepare lessons.

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Cindy Sexton is the President of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County.

“Last time, it was really about Covid and the concern about the virus and the unknowns,” she says. “Now we’re in a very different place. Right now, we’re in a staffing crisis,” said Sexton.

More than 17 thousand Covid cases Statewide Sunday with 52 new deaths are dominating the key metrics. Science, social studies, language arts and math will be done online. It’s not adding up for everybody though. Debra Nickey says, “This makes zero sense.” Carol Maenner says, “Save the children. Keep schools open.”

Sexton adds more.

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“TABCO is a democracy. We have elected representatives,” Sexton tells WJZ. “I always encourage everyone to go right to the Board of Education.”

BCPS isn’t expecting to do a county-wide return to virtual but a school by school decision will be made if staffing needs aren’t met. In a letter sent to parents, they say, “Schools that are temporarily switching to virtual instruction are starting off with two days of independent learning before live instruction begins on day three.”

As of January 5th, nine elementary schools, 5 middle, 10 high schools and one special school shifted to virtual learning. Another 7 schools were partially closed. Charles Adams is a Howard County parent who says Coronavirus sent his daughter, a Long Reach High school senior to the Emergency Room. He’s convinced she got it at school.

“In the hospital, they said I cannot go in the back with my daughter,” he tells WJZ through Zoom. “But my kids can go to school with kids with Covid and it’s okay.” Grace’s sister, Amber, is also a student at Long Reach High.

“For us, going to school is risking our lives. We can’t have education if we’re dead,” said Amber.

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Covid testing opportunities are staff will happen Monday. BCPS will give 126 thousand test kids to staff and students Tuesday the 11th.