Wicomico Schools To Keep Four-Day In-Person Weeks Until Next Fall

SALISBURY – Wicomico County Public Schools will continue with four days a week of in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. Donna Hanlin announced the school system’s plan to maintain a weekly schedule of four days of in-person instruction through the end of the school year.

“During these past few weeks we have evaluated this increase to in-person instruction from every angle to see whether it would make sense for Wicomico County Public Schools to return to a schedule of five days of in-person instruction each week,” she said in a statement to WCPS families. “We have determined that it is not in the best interests of students, families or staff to convert the remaining asynchronous Wednesdays into regular schools days. The Board of Education and I are in agreement that the gain of about eight Wednesdays for in-person instruction would not be equal to what our students and staff would lose by no longer having flexible schedules on Wednesdays.”

Last month, WCPS expanded from two days a week of in-person instruction to four for hybrid students. While some virtual students have made requests to return to in-person instruction, she said some remain on the waiting list because of physical distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Students are still on a waiting list because of three-foot distancing requirements …,” Hanlin said in a school board meeting this week. “Moving to five days, with additional families on those waiting lists, would not be physically possible.”

Hanlin said Wednesdays would remain asynchronous for the remainder of the school year and will be used for various educational activities such as tutoring, office hours, student club meetings and more.

“The day provides important time for professional development and planning for our teachers, who are doing a fantastic job of meeting the challenge of teaching virtual students and in-person students at the same time,” she said. “Our facilities employees make excellent use of Wednesdays for additional cleaning and disinfecting in school buildings.”

Hanlin noted, however, that WCPS is planning for full-time, in-person instruction beginning next fall.

“Looking ahead to this fall and the 2021-2022 school year, please know that Wicomico County Public Schools plans to be in session five days a week, with most students attending in person,” she said. “Others, who have been successful with virtual learning, may choose to participate in all-virtual instruction programs.”

In Tuesday’s school board meeting, Hanlin said information on the 2021-2022 school year would be sent to families in the coming weeks. She said their decisions would guide school system officials as they determine what teachers will be teaching in which model.

“Our teachers will no longer have to teach students in the room and on Zoom at the same time, which teachers and students will appreciate,” she said. “We’re already excited about next school year, and will share more information within a few weeks.”

Chief Academic Officer Rick Briggs announced this week the school system will also officer several learning opportunities throughout the summer, including a summer literacy camp, a summer Shakespeare camp and a Summer Crew Employment Program.

“Information is coming out later this week about registration,” he said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.