What are Maryland School Systems Going to do now?
School systems in Maryland are starting to scramble. COVID cases are peaking like never seen before and there seems to be no end in sight. At issue is whether to keep schools open for in person learning or return to virtual learning. In either case there will be major objections on both sides.
If systems opt to remain in person, they risk being seen as not caring about the health and well being of the students. They will also be accused of ignoring health and safety concerns of staff such as teachers, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, and others.
Any systems that choose to return to virtual learning will be accused of succumbing to political pressure and ignoring the needs of working parents who will, once again, be put in a desperate situation in terms of daycare.
But the most compelling issue is student achievement. In early December 2021, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) reported significant drops in standardized test scores. These results showed some of the lowest scores in the last 20 years. Also, Kindergarten readiness scores were don 7% to only 40%. That means that only 40% of students who enter public schools are prepared and ready to learn.
The achievement gap continues to grow, and this is very concerning to educators. So much that is making them very reluctant to pull the plug on in person learning.
School systems are already in crisis mode in many cases due to the shortage of staff. The CDC guidelines of 10-day quarantine for COVID-19 positive cases was creating even more staffing issues. Now that the quarantine time has been reduced to 5, perhaps it might help, but these shortages have been an ongoing issue for many years and the
Several systems including Baltimore County and Baltimore City told students and staff to be sure and take home their computers over the break. This is clearly a hint of uncertainty.
Anne Arundel County put out a letter from the Superintendent stating that as of now they have “…absolutely no plans to convert to virtual instruction at this time.”
The hard reality is that there no easy or right answer. This pandemic is wreaking havoc on our school systems in more ways than one. Staffing shortages, achievement gaps and other problems in education are nothing new. It is simply COVID-19 that has exposed and accelerated them.
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The MEN was founded by John Huber in the fall of 2020. It was founded to provide a platform for expert opinion and commentary on current issues that directly or indirectly affect education. All opinions are valued and accepted providing they are expressed in a professional manner. The Maryland Education Network consists of Blogs, Videos, and other interaction among the K-12 community.