THE HUB - Feature Article

  • Return to Buildings an Emotion-Filled Experience

    Posted by George Arlotto, Ed.D. on 2/19/2021

    The first groups of students whose families chose hybrid instruction for them are now back in our school buildings and over the next month, at least some students in every grade will be in front of teachers in an in-person environment for which we have yearned for nearly a year.


    The reopening of our school buildings is, of course, accompanied by a full slate of emotions for families, students, and employees alike. Happiness. Relief. Eagerness.


    Anxiousness. Anxiety. Fear. Trepidation.

    I understand them all. I’ll add another, however: optimism. I am more optimistic about where we are going now than I have been at perhaps any point in this pandemic. After months of fits and starts, of drawing up plans and redrawing them, of building up hope and having it dashed, we are finally moving students and teachers back to where they belong: in classrooms.


    The COVID-19 rollercoaster ride is no one’s fault, and it’s pointless to spend time pointing fingers. We are where we are, and we’ve simply got to make the best of a situation that none of us asked for or wanted.


    As I’ve said many times, the work every single person on our team has done has been awesome and inspiring. Teachers are the most visible parts of our team to be sure, and the way they have reinvented – and will continue to reinvent – education has been nothing short of phenomenal.

    Our school-based administrators and secretaries have navigated a series of constant course corrections brought on by myriad changes. They’ve compiled hybrid class rosters and then set them aside, only to work on them again in recent weeks.


    Our athletics team has created the most opportunities they could given the restrictions, and if all continues to go well, we will see competitive high school athletics in the next month.


    Our clubs and other extracurricular activities – music, dance, theater, robotics, etc. – also are poised to do more, and I am excited for all of it.
    Behind the scenes, there are several groups of people to whom we owe eternal thanks.


    Our operations personnel – custodians, maintenance workers, etc. – have not missed a day.


    They’ve been in buildings since March 16, the first day they were closed, and continue to do heroic work.


    Equally amazing has been the work of our Food and Nutrition Services employees.


    They’ve not missed a single school day of serving meals since March, and they even ensured meals got to children over the summer. Last week we passed the 5 million mark in meals served.


    Children are getting free, nutritious meals thanks to their dedication.


    Then there’s our Academics team, which has continued to alter curriculum and instruction to meet the changing times; and those doing the tireless work of preparing, repairing, and distributing the technology for all students and staff; and those on the business side of the house, who have secured the PPE and other equipment, kept the bills paid, and ensure that we are
    ready to go when the time comes.


    That time is now. Smaller groups of students are now learning in our developmental centers and our Centers of Applied Technology. Elementary school students return March 1 and a week later, students in grades 6, 9, and 12 will back. By March 22, all of our hybrid students at
    every level will have returned.


    The buzz you hear is excitement. Above all the other noises, we have students who are eager to see the inside of their classrooms again and teachers who are just as eager to stand in the front of those rooms and do what they do best: create magic for our students.


    We can do this. We can make this a success. We can take this huge step toward a return to in-classroom instruction for all. We must do it together, and everyone must make the necessary adjustments and do their part.
    I’m excited. Let’s make this happen.


    The writer is Superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools. He can be reached at superintendent@aacps.org.

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  • AACPS' Food and Nutrition Services Team Surpasses 5 Million Meals Served during Pandemic

    Posted by Melvin Edwards on 2/11/2021

    Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ Food and Nutrition Services team has hit an amazing milestone, serving its 5 millionth meal to children since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools on March 13, 2020.

    The FNS team began serving children ages 2 to 18 with three free school meals on March 16, 2020. It has served meals on every day school has been in session, as well as providing meals over the summer.

    “These awesome members of our AACPS family are among the unsung heroes of the pandemic,” Superintendent George Arlotto said. “They have been outside of our schools in all kinds of weather conditions because they are committed to the service of children. We should all be proud of these incredible public servants.”

    AACPS is currently serving approximately 10,000 children more than 40,000 meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack) at more than 120 sites around the county each day schools are in session. Children ages 2-18 are eligible for free meals. There are no income restrictions, and families can arrange to pick up meals without children present by calling 410-222-5900.

    More information on the meals service program can be found at www.aacps.org/mealpickup.

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  • School System to Resume Athletics in Hybrid on February 16; Spring Competitive Season Planned

    Posted by Melvin Edwards on 2/4/2021

    Anne Arundel County Public Schools will resume athletics in a hybrid format when it re-engages with fall sports student-athletes starting Tuesday, February 16, 2021.  Participants in fall sports will take part in a non-competitive, four-week session that will include skills-based practice sessions and virtual opportunities. These sessions will focus on participation and engagement and may include intrasquad scrimmages.

    Following the four-week period for fall sports, AACPS plans to conduct a 14-week competitive spring sports season beginning on March 15, 2021, as allowed under the plan put forth by the Maryland Secondary Schools Athletics Association. The spring season will consist of three weeks of practices and tryouts followed by up to seven weeks of competition. That would be followed by additional postseason opportunities.

    “This plan is designed to allow for the best possible opportunity for a wholesome spring season that will include AACPS athletic competition for the first time since March of 2020,” Superintendent George Arlotto said. “While we had all hoped to offer competition for student-athletes in all of our sports, that is simply not possible for us at this point. An elongated spring season provides for more time for a student-athlete or team to rejoin a team during the season should they have to be quarantined due to a COVID situation. It also allows us to maximize opportunities for student-athletes prior to AACPS graduations in early June.”

    Dr. Arlotto said the school system is continuing to examine a similar hybrid resumption for other high school extracurricular activities

    AACPS launched a hybrid athletics program in the fall but shut it down in early November as COVID-19 case rates rose dramatically. The same health and safety  protocols will be in place when the program resumes on February 16 as were in place in the fall. Updated information and plans, including drafts of spring schedules, will be available online at the AACPS Athletics Reopening page here. Winter sports athletics sessions have been held in a virtual format.

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