Board weighs in on school reopening plans

Board weighs in on school reopening plans


The Board of Education met July 7 to discuss how individual members view reopening schools in August and their thoughts about different instructional options.

Superintendent Kimberly Hill will present the school system’s 2020-21 school year opening options to the Board in a follow-up meeting on Tuesday, July 14. Hill’s plans will take Board, staff and community input into consideration, and the report to the Board will outline staff recommendations.

The Board plans to discuss and vote on the Superintendent’s recommendation during the July 14 meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. via WebEx. The meeting will stream live on the Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) website, www.ccboe.com, and air live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12. CCPS will rebroadcast the meeting and post it on CCPSTV under the Board meeting tab at ccboe.com.

Board members talked publicly about their feelings toward reopening, safety precautions, student health and staff workloads. Members’ opinions ranged from offering only virtual learning, at least the first quarter, to a mix of in-school and virtual options. One of the Board’s recurring concerns was getting students with special needs and early elementary-aged children back in school with a teacher. Several Board members expressed that they did not feel the state would allow schools to reopen in August due to public concerns with rising COVID-19 cases.

Common concerns among Board members included:

  • Teacher, staff and student safety and health issues
  • Reopening and then having to shut down again
  • Difficulty in having children wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Transportation
  • Availability of substitute teachers
  • Students and staff with pre-existing conditions
  • Child care
  • Teacher workload

Without knowing if Maryland will allow the reopening schools, Board members said the school system needs options and plans to meet the needs of students and teachers under a variety of conditions.

Student Board Member Ian Herd gave his perspective as a high school student. Herd said he hoped online options would be radically different from the spring and that there would be an increase in student interaction with teachers. He said the school system did the best that it could with the time allowed in the spring. “Teachers teaching in their classrooms is a valuable experience,” Herd said, adding that he hopes that the school system can allow a limited number of students to come to school for in-person learning.

Chairperson Virginia McGraw encouraged Hill to consider the Board’s feedback while building a solid plan for continuity of learning and opening the new school year. “The timeline to normal remains unknown,” McGraw said.

 Dr. Hill thanked the Board for its transparency and for providing early feedback so the school system could begin to refine its reopening plans. “We are all trying to do what’s best for kids,” Hill said. 

To watch today’s meeting, visit https://www.ccboe.com/ccboetv/?videos=board-meeting-july-7-2020.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,521 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high-quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event. 

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).

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