As the school closure has been extended to April 24 in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) classroom and special education teachers are preparing to deliver distance learning assignments.
Teachers will also establish “office hours” that will allow them to communicate with students and answer questions through email.
When Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon initially closed Maryland public schools from March 16 to 27, the third quarter marking period ended on March 13 due to Gov. Larry Hogan declaring a state of emergency.
Third quarter report cards will be mailed to middle and high school students on April 7. Report cards for elementary school students will be posted on ParentVue on April 7. Elementary school parents who are unable to access ParentVue can email their child’s school principal to receive a paper copy of the report card in the mail.
The upcoming middle and high school assignments will focus on the four core subjects of English, math, science and social studies and count for fourth-quarter grades. However, CCPS is waiting for direction from the Maryland State Department of Education as to how those assignments will be graded.
Early next week, classroom and special education teachers will start preparing assignments for their students to complete online or using paper packets that can be picked up at the 11 CCPS meal sites. The assignments will likely start rolling out online and paper packets available for pick up starting April 3.
Online, on paper learning
On the last day that schools were open, March 13, students took a survey to determine who had access to a device and /or the internet. The parents and guardians of students who were absent March 13 received the survey through the email address connected to their child’s Synergy account. If an email was not on file, CCPS staff phoned parents and guardians to determine the student’s access to technology.
Students who don’t have a device to complete work may be able to borrow one from the CCPS technology department. Technology staff will begin the process next week of distributing laptops to students who need them.
Free internet hotspots
Through a partnership with AT&T FirstNet, free, temporary internet access will be provided at four school locations — Piccowaxen Middle School, Matthew Henson Middle School, T.C. Martin Elementary School and Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School. CCPS chose the hotspot locations using information from its recent student technology survey, Comcast and Verizon hotspot maps, and a recent broadband survey county government conducted to determine the areas in highest need.
CCPS is using grant funds provided by the Maryland Center for School Safety to cover the initial costs of the project. The CCPS offices of instructional technology, transportation, and school safety and security worked to complete the project within a week.
Those accessing the internet at the locations can park in the front lot and connect to the WiFi, while remaining in their car to maintain social distancing. The hotspots will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Jason Stoddard, CCPS director of school safety and security, said. He recommends not streaming videos using the free internet. Video surveillance is in use at all CCPS buildings to monitor parking lots and exteriors. The Charles County Sheriff’s Office will also regularly patrol the areas around schools. Schools are closed to the public, but critical staff members are still working.
Directions to access the hotspot
- Pull into the front parking lot.
- Open your WiFi connection or Network connection screen.
- Look for the network name “Public Access.”
- The network password is “CharlesCounty” (it’s one word, the letter C is capitalized in Charles and County.)
For those who don’t have access to technology or prefer to complete their work using pen and paper, the online lessons will be available in paper packets available for pick up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday, at the 11 CCPS meals sites:
- Henry E. Lackey High School;
- Maurice J. McDonough High School;
- St. Charles High School;
- Westlake High School;
- Milton M. Somers Middle School;
- Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary;
- Indian Head Elementary School;
- Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School;
- Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School;
- J.C. Parks Elementary School; and
- J.P. Ryon Elementary School.
The lessons will be sorted by grade level. While students must be present to receive meals, they do not have to be present to get the paper assignments. Those picking up the instruction packets should know what grade the student is in and the subject they need.
For paper assignments, teachers ask students to keep a “portfolio.” Students should keep all their paper work together and once schools open, they can bring it in to receive grades. For students who opt to use a hybrid of online and paper instruction, they should keep their paper assignments in order to hand them to their teachers once schools reopen.
Teacher planning period
CCPS content experts have prepared coursework by grade level and subject. Classroom and special education teachers will spend most of next week preparing to ensure their students have assignments on April 3. Teachers are considering equity and consistency moving forward as well as the needs of students in special education programs and those who are in English Learners (EL) program.
Special education teachers will review all student IEPs in their caseload and use Goalbook, an online platform for teachers and students that centers on the achievement of individual student learning goals.
Elementary school assignments will be accessible at www.ccboe.com.
Middle and high school students will use Apex Learning, a digital curriculum program that is already being used by high school students enrolled in the Virtual Academy to complete coursework.
Later this week, teachers will reach out to their students via their StudentVue account. In the message, teachers will explain what instruction will look like while schools are closed through Friday, April 24. Middle and high school teachers will also make sure their students know how to login into their Apex account and how it works.
The meal sites will continue to operate during the school closure. Children 18 and younger can receive three meals a day — a bagged lunch and dinner, and a breakfast pack — from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at 11 meal sites including Lackey, McDonough, St. Charles and Westlake high schools, Somers middle school and Higdon, Indian Head, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy, Dr. Mudd, Parks and Ryon elementary schools. Children must be present to receive meals.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,521 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.