State Board of Ed Delays, Then Adopts New Local Schedule Mandates

State Board of Education adopts new standards for online learning that requires a minimum of 3.5 hours a day of synchronous instruction, gives school systems until December 31, 2020, to adhere to new rules.

thomas-park-6MePtA9EVDA-unsplashThe Maryland State Board of Education (MSDE) today approved a modified version of State Superindent Dr. Karen Salmon’s recommendation to establish a minimum number of hours for synchronous and asynchronous learning for all 24 school systems, all of which are beginning the year virtually.

Synchronous learning is online or distance learning between a teacher and students that occurs in a face to face environment or in a virtual classroom setting. Asynchronous learning occurs through online channels without real-time interaction.

The Board voted to require all schools to meet the following minimum online instruction requirements by December 31, 2020:

  • All schools must be open for students for at least 180 school days.
  • All schools must be in session for at least six hours per day.
  • All schools must have an average of 3.5 hours across the grades (K through 12) of synchronous instruction spread out over the course of the day.
  • Half-day prekindergarten must include a minimum of 1.5 hours of synchronous instruction spread out over the course of the day.
  • School systems that have indicated that they are not returning students for in-person learning until the second semester should reevaluate their reopening plans by the end of the first quarter (after nine weeks) and submit to MSDE by the third week of November.

MSDE will collaborate with local school superintendents and provide technical assistance as they work to implement the minimum hours of synchronous instruction by the end of the calendar year.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, under Superintendent Salmon’s initial proposal would have required local school systems to provide more hours of synchronous learning — based on a sliding scale — by September 28.

The initial proposal drew harsh criticism from the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) — which represents 75,000 educators and is the state’s largest union —  which said that no major mandated scheduling changes should be implemented until after the first quarter.

Cheryl Bost, president of MSEA, said that while the organization appreciates that districts will have more time to meet new standards, it remains deeply concerned with discussions to expand in-person learning later this year “without also expanding resources or measures to protect the health and safety of educators and students.”

“We appreciate that the State Board of Education rejected Superintendent Salmon’s last-minute proposal to rip up local school schedules in a matter of weeks without thought for the confusion, stress, and chaos that would ensue,” Bost said in a statement. “The State Board agreed with the more than 20,000 Marylanders who signed our petition in less than 48 hours that called for no mandated schedule changes until after the first quarter.”

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Larry Hogan last week said that his administration would “put pressure” on local school systems to reevaluate reopening plans and include some form of in-person learning.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: State Board of Ed Mulls New Scheduling Requirements for Local School Systems

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Previous Conduit Street Coverage: State Sets “Guardrails” for School Reopenings, LEAs Must Meet Benchmarks