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Wicomico County Public Schools to Start 2020-2021 School Year with Virtual Learning

Wicomico County Public Schools will start the 2020-2021 school year with virtual learning for the first semester, supporting the health and safety of students, staff and families while providing robust, consistent instruction through online platforms.

Superintendent of School Dr. Donna C. Hanlin presented her recommendation Tuesday, July 28 during a virtual special meeting of the Board of Education. The Board unanimously approved the plan for virtual learning for the fall semester.

“Ever since March 13th, we have looked forward to the day when we could safely resume face-to-face instruction in our classrooms,” Dr. Hanlin said. “Throughout this summer we have prepared for that scenario, while also making plans should school be all online or all in person. The biggest factor in determining which scenario would work best for Wicomico Schools this fall was the public health circumstances in our community, our state and our region. In recent weeks it has become clear that the situation has not improved sufficiently for us to safely reopen school buildings to all students and staff. Making this decision on how Wicomico County Public Schools will deliver instruction this fall allows our school system and its educators to focus fully on a well-planned and carefully implemented approach to virtual learning.”

Details on fall plans will be available soon. The school system’s Recovery Plan will be presented at the Aug. 11 Board of Education meeting and posted on the school system’s website ( by Aug. 14. Families and staff members will receive a link to the Recovery Plan once it has been posted. Schools will mail fall welcome letters to school families on Aug. 21. The school year will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

“Starting the 2020-2021 school year with virtual learning is anything but an easy decision, but it is the safest and most responsible decision we could make for our students, families and staff at this time,” said Board Chairman Don Fitzgerald. “We know this won’t make everyone happy, but we believe it serves everyone’s best interests for health and safety reasons. Instruction online is challenging, but we have outstanding instructional staff who will rise to the occasion and make this semester a meaningful and successful time with their students.”

Online instruction will look very different this fall than what students and parents experienced with the sudden shift to remote learning last spring. Teachers will have the opportunity to prepare for online delivery of their content. Through effectively using platforms like Google Classroom, Zoom, and many others, instruction will be engaging and varied. Grades and attendance will count. Wicomico is well on the way to having a laptop to provide to every student who needs one, and will guide families currently without internet access at home in affordable ways to get online.

While students and teachers are engaged in virtual learning this fall, school officials will continue to monitor the public health situation and plan for the eventual reopening of school buildings. Wicomico does plan to serve some small, focused groups of students – such as those needing special support services, or those engaged in a hands-on CTE program – in its buildings later this fall. These small groups may help set the stage for the return of more students to the classroom.