- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Maryland, Virginia and the District rank low among jurisdictions for in-person instruction, according to a national school tracker.

The school opening tracker by Burbio shows that Maryland has the fifth lowest percentage of in-person instruction among the 50 states, at 57%. Virginia ranks as eighth lowest, with nearly 66% as of Tuesday.

The District falls well below in-person teaching levels compared to the states, with less than 12%, according to the tracker.

More than 60% of K-12 students now attend schools that offer traditional in-person learning, and less than 10% attend virtual only schools, said Dennis Roche of Burbio, citing data as of Sunday.

Mr. Roche said school districts offering online-only instruction are easing into in-person classes, while districts using a hybrid approach of online and face-to-face teaching are moving toward traditional instruction.

In Maryland, six school districts on Monday reached their final phase of their reopening plans, welcoming more students for face-to-face instruction, the state’s Department of Education says.

Students in grades 10-11 resumed in-person learning at Baltimore CIty Public Schools, returning to their classrooms for four days each week.

Montgomery County Public Schools reopened Monday for seventh- to 11th-graders, who will attend classes in-person four days every other week. The county plans to offer a full-time virtual school option next academic year for eligible students.

The proportion of students receiving in-person instruction in Maryland public schools ranges from an estimated 15% to 36% in Baltimore to 86% in Frederick. In Prince George’s County, about 30% of public school students are participating in hybrid learning, including grade 7-11 students who returned to classrooms last week, said spokeswoman Meghan Gebreselassie.

In Virginia, 53 school divisions offer in-person classes, 43 provide partial in-person instruction and 29 all hybrid, according to the state’s Department of Education.

About 57% of Arlington County Public School students are learning under a hybrid model while nearly 43% are participating in distance learning, said Frank Bellavia, the school district’s spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Lucy Caldwell of Fairfax County Public Schools said extensive planning is underway to bring back all students for five days of face-to-face instruction this fall as it believes that “students learn best in-person.”

D.C. Public Schools are offering more in-person opportunities, and some are deliberating expanding face-to-face classes for the fourth academic term, which began Monday. The District offers virtual and in-person instruction, as well as Canvas Academics and Real Engagement (CARE) classrooms, in which students learn online under the supervision of a school staff member.

DCPS spokeswoman Deborah Isaac said nearly 10,500 out of a total of 50,000 students, or 21%, participated in at least one day of in-person learning each week last term. She said more than 4,100 seats will become available this term.

DCPS said it might add classrooms during the term if there is enough student demand for in-person programming. Last month, the school system updated its COVID-19 guidelines by shortening social distancing from 6 feet to 3 feet, lifting cohort size limits, allowing spring sports, resuming in-person performing arts rehearsals and shortening quarantine protocols from 14 to 10 days.

Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier this month said she expects all public schools next fall to be fully open for in-person learning five days a week with all teachers back in the classroom.

Of the 50 states, Hawaii has the lowest rate of in-person instruction at 38.5%, according to Burbio’s school tracker. Several states reportedly have 100% of their school districts offering traditional, face-to-face instruction, including Florida, South Carolina, West Virginia, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas.

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