Wicomico asks for input on hybrid learning or completely virtual school year
WICOMICO CO., Md. – Officials with Wicomico County Public Schools are asking parents to provide feedback on proposed models for the upcoming school year as they consider different models with quite a few variables.
“We continue to remind ourselves that our mission is to educate students but our priority is to keep them safe,” says Wicomico County Superintendent Dr. Donna Hanlin.
Right now, officials are focused on the hybrid yellow model which involves both in-school instruction and at-home learning. It also gives parents the option for completely virtual learning.
“I can answer that yes we will do everything in our power no matter if we are in a hybrid situation to ensure that families who have multiple kids in multiple schools are on the same hybrid schedulem,” says Dr. Rick Briggs, the chief academic officer for Wicomico County Public Schools.
As officials navigate changes, they’re looking for families to fill out a survey. It’s important to note that families not comfortable with returning in person can choose a completely virtual option. But officials are stressing that this input is not a final commitment. “We are going to send it back at the end of month before we make a final decision. We will ask parents to confirm their decision,” says Hanlin.
Educators say as of now masks will be required in all buildings. However, they’re figuring out how that will look for their youngest students and those with special needs as well as how to approach discipline issues that arise if someone refuses to wear one. “It’s not punitive. It’s to ensure the safety of all students and all our staff and we feel it’s that important and that’s why we’re requiring it,” says Briggs.
As for transportation, they’re planning for 50 percent of usual capacity on school buses and will be allowing kids from the same household to sit in one seat. Meanwhile, the facilities team is tasked with measuring out spaces for social distancing in classrooms and will possibly be putting markers on the ground. “Certainly in order to keeps students physically distanced, they need some kind of reminder so that could very well be the case,” says Hanlin.
Additionally, staff are looking to set up a support line to help students who may not be in the classroom. “We know students have various levels of support at home and we need to make sure we are doing our job and supporting them no matter what their home situation,” says Briggs.
Officials say they are in the process of buying eight-thousand laptops to distribute to all students for virtual learning. They estimate they have about 2,500 and will prioritize families who do not have this kind of technology before distributing laptops to every child.
Educators say since Maryland is in Phase Two of the Governor’s reopening plan, decisions about the school year are being decided on a local level. However if the state moves to phase one or three, they believe the state will issue more guidance. Wicomico education officials plan to finalize reopening details by August 14th.
Families should check their emails for a link to that survey and if they have any questions or comments about reopening plans, they can email Comments@WCBOE.org.