School Board Approves Virtual Instruction Day Plan

SALISBURY –Bottom of Form With board approval this week, a virtual day instruction plan for Wicomico County schools now advances to the state superintendent.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Board of Education voted to approve a virtual day instruction plan for Wicomico County Public Schools (WCPS) and to submit the document to the state superintendent for approval.

“The Maryland State Department of Education, building on the success of the opportunity provided in the 2021-2022 school year, is opening up a pathway for local education agencies to repurpose certain days as virtual school days in the 2022-2023 school year …,” said Board Chair Gene Malone. “The days that may be considered for this opportunity include inclement weather days – i.e., snow days – staff professional learning days, high school graduation days to enable teachers to assist with or attend the graduation, or other similar circumstances described in this application.”

Chief Academic Officer Rick Briggs said approval of the plan would allow the school system to utilize virtual instruction days, though none have been planned for the coming academic year.

“As of today, we have no plans to do any virtual instruction days,” he told community members this week. “However, we do think it would be smart to submit our application to the state superintendent in case we needed any of these virtual school days during the year.”

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Briggs noted that the school system would have the opportunity to use a total of eight days as virtual school days, with no more than three days of asynchronous instruction.

He added that should WCPS decide to utilize a virtual instruction day, those plans would be communicated to families and staff.

“We would utilize a wide variety of communication tools to ensure all system changes are shared in advance,” he said.

Briggs told board members this week the school system must meet certain requirements in its use of virtual school days. Those requirements include four hours of live instruction on synchronous virtual school days, mandatory attendance, accommodations for those with disabilities, and access to internet and devices.

When asked if the school system would be handing out hotspots on days of virtual instruction, Briggs said that WCPS is now directing families to affordable internet options and free WiFi locations.

“We are getting out of the hotspot business,” he replied. “It’s not a wise use of taxpayer money.”

After further discussion, the school board voted unanimously to accept the virtual day instruction plan for submittal to the state superintendent.

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.