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The Dripby Ian Round4:25 pmJul 20, 20200

Fall semester to begin online, not in-person, City Schools CEO announces

Students will not return to school for classes next month

Above: City Schools headquarters on North Avenue. (Mark Reutter)

Succumbing to pressure from teachers and parents, Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises announced today that students will not return to school for in-person classes this fall.

Previously, Santelises had offered an all-online option and a hybrid option combining in-person instruction with virtual learning.

But as Covid cases climb nationwide and in Maryland, parents and teachers have urged school officials to keep schools closed until the virus is more under control.

In a statement today, Santelises said she will delay the start of the hybrid option until “later this fall.”

“Providing a hybrid learning option remains our goal,” she wrote. However, “while many families are interested in an in-person option, there is also discomfort among students and families with moving directly to reopening in August.”

She continued:

“Please rest assured that when it is time to transition to a hybrid in-person learning option, there will be a comprehensive and thorough plan to return in place as well as opportunities to orient families and students to what safe in-person learning could look like for their student. As a parent, that is what I would expect to occur, and that is what our students deserve.”

The decision places the city on the same footing as Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard counties.

The decision places the city on the same footing as Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard counties, which have decided to hold virtual instruction only in the fall semester.

Baltimore County has not yet announced plans for reopening schools this fall.

Delay to Start of School Year

Santelises also stated that she’s seeking a delay to the start of the school year until September 8, the Tuesday after Labor Day, to provide more professional development to staff. (This change will require school board approval.)

Diamonté Brown, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, applauded Santelises’ decision today, but said remote learning should continue at least through the end of the first semester.

Brown had joined the Maryland State Education Association and the Maryland Parent Teacher Association in making that demand last week.

“A perfect solution does not exist,” Brown noted today. “A safe one does, and we appreciate the district’s willingness to reevaluate their decisions based on feedback from the directly impacted.”

Find more information about reopening here.


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