Members of the Baltimore County School Board and other county public schools employees began receiving an email on Monday afternoon reading: Dear BCPS staff: I am pleased to announce a return to in-person instruction.”

School is no longer out.

(Well, out of the school buildings, that is. School has technically been in session – remotely – since the start of the school year.)

In-person education is now scheduled to start on March 1.

“We have heard loud and clear that some families are ready for in-person learning,” said BCPS Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams in a Monday press release. “While school operations will look different as we implement the CDC’s recommended practices for health and safety, I look forward to greeting students and staff as they return.

“I also commend staff across the organization for their hard work to prepare for reopening, despite not only the challenges of COVID-19, but also the ongoing and long-term effects of the ransomware attack on our systems.”

Classes will return under a phased-in hybrid system, details of which the school system released weeks ago.

Basically, students will be divided into three cohorts: A, B, and C.

Cohort A will attend school on Monday and Tuesday, Cohort B will attend school on Thursday and Friday, and the other three days will be virtual learning.

Cohort C will remain in complete virtual learning, for parents who request it and those who do not respond to the questionnaire.

The week of March 1 will see students in separate public day schools, like Battle Monument, along with students in preschool through second grade return to school.

The week of March 15 will have students in grades third though 12th whose individualized education program includes a least restrictive environment primarily outside the general education classroom setting return, along with students in career and technical education programs that require hands-on learning experiences (aviation technology, carpentry, cosmetology, etc).

The remaining students grades sixth through ninth will return the week of March 22, and all other remaining students will return the week of April 6.

The majority of school faculty and staff will return to school buildings on Feb. 16, with some exceptions: athletic directors will return on Feb. 1, and high school coaches will have a meeting on Feb. 10; Elementary Teachers Association of Baltimore County (TABCO) 10-month staff return on Feb. 11 and secondary TABCO 10-month staff will return on March 9.

Elementary Education Support Professionals of Baltimore County (ESPBC) report on Feb. 22, and the secondary ESPBC 10-month staff return on March 8.

Schools and offices will be required to follow five safety practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: consistent and correct use of face coverings; social distancing to the extent possible; frequent hand washing and covering of coughs and sneezes; cleaning and disinfecting; and contact tracing led by the Office of Health Services in collaboration with the local health department.