Battle Monument

The Battle Monument School is one of four Day Schools in Baltimore County that was scheduled to open for teachers on Nov. 9 and for students on Nov 16. Due to a rise in positive COVID-19 cases, that reopening has been postponed.

DUNDALK —In response to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases, Baltimore County Public Schools has decided to postpone the opening of Battle Monument School and three other public separate day schools.

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams and Chief of School Climate and Safety Dr. Michael J. Zarchin stated on Nov. 4, that they decided to push back the opening of Battle Monument due to Baltimore County’s daily COVID-19 positivity rate reaching 4.6 percent and the number of cases per 100,000 residents becoming greater than 18 (numbers that Williams and Zarchin said have steadily increased in the last week.)

“Therefore, we are unable to proceed with reopening our four public separate day schools (Battle Monument, Maiden Choice, Ridge Ruxton, and White Oak) as scheduled on Nov. 9 for staff and Nov. 16 for students. We will proceed with a safe reopening for students two weeks after we meet the established parameters. The return of school-based staff to school buildings is also being put on hold until further notice,” Williams and Zarchin said in a release.

“As the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve, we will monitor our metrics on a daily basis in coordination with the Baltimore County Department of Health and make adjustments as necessary, always keeping health and safety foremost in our minds. Updates on our metrics will be provided every Friday.”

During a virtual school board meeting last month, teachers and school nurses voiced their concerns about both bringing kids who attend these special education schools back in the buildings and having the students continue online learning.

{span}“These students are at high-risk for life-threatening consequences if they contract COVID-19,” a teacher from Deep Creek Middle School said during the meeting.”{/span}

{span}”Medical experts do not recommend high-risk students be cohorted in enclosed spaces with inadequate building ventilation and the inability of students to comply with social distancing and the wearing of masks.”{/span}

However, some inadequacies with remote learning were highlighted.

A member of the Special Education Citizen Advisory Committee reported that, while some special education students preferred the online classes, there was another group who could not engage at all with remote learning.

“We know these students need a return to classrooms to regain lost skills and move forward, or perhaps they need a teacher one-to-one physically present with them in their homes,” she said.

“There is also a third category of students being largely ignored: this is the group that could learn remotely if they had the proper support. They experience intense frustration and growing learning gaps. The barriers in distance learning are too many, and the supports provided are too few.”

The Special Education Citizen Advisory Committee has heard from “parents who are at their breaking point watching their child regress, or become frustrated or demoralized. We have heard about kids begging for this to stop.

“Many teachers are putting on a brave face, many parents are doing their best, but virtual learning is not working for many children. Additional support and intervention could improve the situation, but these issues are not being problem-solved fast enough at the system level.”

Some of the problems: children who can’t manipulate an online worksheet aren’t getting printed materials and worksheets; students who need a scribe aren’t getting people to write for them; and students who are unable to learn in large groups aren’t being put in smaller groups due to staffing limitations.

“My own child,” the committee member said, “has been unable to make it through a single class and has received no education since the school year began because he cannot access it. We need to get honest about the problems with virtual learning and the possible solutions.”

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