Dr. Karen Salmon, Superintendent of Maryland Schools, announced March 25 that all Maryland public schools will be closed through at least April 24, raising questions over effects on special events, exams and learning.
The spread of COVID-19 continues in Maryland, which has confirmed 423 cases and four deaths. The virus continues to plague the country, with many states shutting down nonessential businesses, closing public gathering places, and encouraging citizens to practice social distancing.
Several seniors are wondering if the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation of not gathering more than 10 people in a room will prohibit prom and graduation from taking place as scheduled. In his first virtual town hall, Principal Bob Sinclair let students know that, as of right now, it is simply a waiting game. The prom venue is patiently waiting alongside Blake and has not decided to cancel Blake’s reservation at this time.
Graduation is further out, but graduation proceeding as scheduled is also dependent upon the strictness of the regulations put in place by Washington, D.C. officials and revisions to the graduation schedule may need to be coordinated amongst 27 Montgomery County high schools.
Changes have also been made to the structure of AP exams. This year, AP exams will be administered online, to be completed from students’ homes. Students have options regarding the date on which they will sit the exams. The exams will consist solely of free response questions covering a truncated amount of curriculum to be answered in 45 minutes.
While more information about exam administration is to come April 3, The College Board’s AP YouTube channel is live streaming and recording review videos for all AP classes daily. The daily course schedule is available here: https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/pdf/ap-class-schedule-daily.pdf.
Principal Sinclair also announced today that Marking Period Three will be extended and the grade book will reopen Monday, March 30. Teachers are preparing to operate classes remotely Monday, using a combination of Google Education Suite apps, MCPS’ Canvas app and potentially video chat apps as well. For students without reliable access to internet, MCPS will begin providing students with laptops March 26. More information about distribution times and locations are available here: https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/coronavirus/. The website also contains updated information regarding meal distribution sites.
Additionally, the stress coming from uncertainties regarding continuity of learning, a lack of a structured day, being cooped up at home, et cetera, can be overwhelming. Health officials suggest video chatting with friends, taking time to exercise, eating healthfully and investing time in hobbies may help reduce anxious feelings. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html.
Stay safe and healthy, Bengals. We will see you later.