Talbot’s public schools will start the school year Sept. 8 with virtual learning for all students with in-person instruction phased in throughout the fall semester depending on COVID-19 trends.
The Talbot County Board of Education approved the phase-in model for the 2020-21 school year during a special July 30 meeting.
The board also voted to make Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, the start date for students.
“After preparing our buildings with safety precautions and in consultation with the Talbot County Health Officer, I am recommending we begin the school year with virtual instruction and learning the first week of school for all students,” Kelly L. Griffith, Talbot’s school superintendent said in a statement. “Starting the second week of school we will begin following a phase-in model to bring more and more students back into the building quickly and safely.”
The plan includes five phases, and transitions of any of these phases will be pending a daily evaluation of health statistics with Dr. Fredia Wadley, the county’s health officer.
The phases are:
• Phase 1/Red Model: All students will participate in virtual instruction four days per week. Talbot County Public Schools will provide a schedule for each level, lessons will be synchronous and traditional grading and attendance practices will be in place. Teachers will provide asynchronous instruction one day per week. This will begin on the first day of school.
• Phase 2/Orange Model: Priority special population groups will be offered face-to-face instruction some days per week with virtual instruction on other days. This will begin on Sept. 14 if surveys indicate sufficient participation.
• Phase 3/Hybrid Yellow Model: Prekindergarten, kindergarten, Grade 6, and Grade 9 students will be offered face-to-face instruction two days per week on the AA/BB plan. Virtual learning will take place on off-site school days. This provides time for various groups new to a school setting to get acclimated to the learning environment. This would begin on Oct. 5, which is the fifth week of school.
• Phase 4/Hybrid Yellow Model: All students in prekindergarten through Grade 12 will be offered face-to-face instruction two days per week on the AA/BB plan. Virtual learning will take place on off-site school days. This will start Nov. 9, the ninth week of school and the beginning of second quarter.
• Phase 5/Green Model: All students in prekindergarten through Grade 12 return to face-to-face instruction five days per week. This transition will only occur when authorized by the governor and the Maryland State Department of Education.
“So much changed in our world this past March,” Griffith said in a letter to parents. “What did not change was the way TCPS staff handled adversity while still doing what is right for children, and the unwavering commitment of the community to assist us in coming back this fall stronger.
“I commend everyone for working with us in planning for recovery, connecting households, and feeding our children throughout the summer,” she wrote. “This fall will definitely be different for both students and staff. I would like to thank all families for your support and vote of confidence in working the plan!”
The next steps as presented to the board are as follows:
• Continue to revise the recovery plan to include a more robust plan for starting the school year.
• Survey parents and staff of priority special populations in order to be able to transition small groups.
• Continue to increase connectivity in homes.
• Continue to monitor stage development by the governor and be ready to respond quickly.
• Continue development of blended virtual program as an alternative for second semester.
The final plan will be presented to the school board at its Aug. 12 meeting and will be posted as required by MSDE on or before Aug. 14.