Public Schools to Remain Closed until 4/24, as COVID-19 Virus Spreads; Cecil Schools Prep Meals, Online Courses

March 26, 2020

Maryland has ordered public schools in the state to remain closed until 4/24/2020, extending for a month an earlier two-week shutdown due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, leaving thousands of Cecil County students at home as school officials prepare to roll out new online learning programs.

Standing with Gov. Larry Hogan in Annapolis, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced Wednesday (3/25/2020) that all Maryland public schools will now remain closed for another four weeks in an effort to slow down the spread of the virus.

“I am working in concert with all local school system superintendents, including multiple calls per week, in order to provide the continuity of learning to all of our students in every jurisdiction across the State of Maryland during this time,” she said. “We plan to resume the continuity of learning next week, and we will be working closely with local superintendents, school administrators, and our teachers to activate that plan.”

She did not rule out another closure order, possible for the rest of the school year, after the current order expires. She also did not specify whether the state schools system would consider requiring summer school sessions to bring students up to date on classwork before the fall term.

Salmon did say that the state would need to come up with plans and strategies on how to serve “special needs” children, who often rely on classroom aides or adaptive learning devices or strategies, to make sure their needs were still being met during the school closings. Indeed, the challenges of special needs students was a recurring concern of many parents in Cecil County responding on social media to the latest closing order.

The new state order was not unexpected, and local school officials have been drafting plans to expand distance learning programs beyond the initial two-week stint that was more oriented toward reviews of already covered subject matter.

In a message to parents issued Wednesday night, just hours after the state announcement, Cecil County Public Schools (CCPS) Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Lawson said, “We are prepared to provide enhanced learning opportunities for students beyond what has been provided so far.”

He said the school system will advise parents by the end of the week on plans to provide “direct instruction for students” over the next two weeks. He also said that “printed packets of work” would be made available for families who do not have access to a computer or a printer.

Dr. Lawson said that CCPS staff members have been working to assemble the new instructional materials “in two-week blocks” for the students. So, after the initial instructional materials are provided, a second round of materials would be prepared for the second half of the month-long school closing period.

The continued closure of county schools also means that CCPS nutrition staff, aided by a cadre of volunteers, will continue to provide bagged lunches and meals at multiple pickup sites around the county. For parents unable to pick up meals for their children, volunteers have been gathering up the bagged meals and delivering them to families around the county.

Meals can be picked up, Monday through Friday, from 11a.m. until 12 noon, at eight locations around the county: Cecilton Elementary, Holly Hall Elementary, Cecil Manor Elementary, Thomson Estates Elementary, Perryville Elementary, North East Elementary, Elkton High School, and Janes United Methodist Church in Rising Sun.

[UPDATE: Total meals served by CCPS since Monday, March 16 through Thursday number 19,846. This has been accomplished with a staff of 10, school officials said. Scott Heckert, Manager of Food and Nutrition for CCPS, shared that the staff is grateful for the support they have received from the volunteers at Janes United Methodist and the Feed The Kids group on Facebook.]

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One Response to Public Schools to Remain Closed until 4/24, as COVID-19 Virus Spreads; Cecil Schools Prep Meals, Online Courses

  1. Sharon Rosenberg on March 29, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Excellent work by the nutritional staff and all the volunteers. Their hard work helps many families have one less thing to worry about–having enough food for their child’s lunches. Thank you each and every one.

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