Virtual Day Instruction Plan
The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has opened a pathway for local school systems to education agencies (LEAs) to repurpose certain days as virtual instruction days (VIDs) in the 2023-2024 school year. To do so, a school system must:
- Provide a plan to its Board of Education at a public meeting
- Provide an opportunity for public comment
- Obtain Board approval for the plan
- Submit the plan to MSDE for approval
The plan is not for sustained virtual instruction of students. Rather, it is a pathway that enables local school systems to have the flexibility to repurpose certain days where it is prudent AND to keep the end of the school year closer to the beginning of June.
The Board of Education was presented with the proposed plan (Agenda Item 5.02) at its September 6, 2023, meeting and approved the plan at its September 20,2003, meeting. Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury approved the plan on September 22, 2023.
Complete details of the plan can be found in the answers to the questions found elsewhere on this page.
School systems have the opportunity to use a total of eight days as a virtual school day for the described purposes. The days may be synchronous (live) or asynchronous (pre-recorded). However, no more than three of the eight days may be used as asynchronous days.
Utilizing days in this manner can remove days from the end of the school year. Dr. Mark Bedell, Superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools, is proposing that the days be used only to account for inclement weather days in the current school year.
The following are key parts of AACPS’ proposed plan:
- Students in grades 3-12 and all instructional staff will be expected to take portable devices home daily to be able to use for Virtual Instruction Days (VID) should the need arise. Students in Pre-K through Grade 2 have devices at home and do not transport them and from school.
- In the case of inclement weather, the Superintendent will decide if:
- a VID is to be used at all.
- instruction will be synchronous or asynchronous.
- VIDs will count as both teacher work days and student instructional days, regardless of whether instruction is synchronous or asynchronous.
- VIDs will occur on a previously announced class schedule (still being developed) and through a portal with access instructions communicated to students and families.
- Whenever possible, the intent to utilize a VID, and the type of VID intended to be used, will be communicated to families and staff in advance.
- In accordance with MSDE guidelines:
- Attendance will be taken for students and staff.
- VIDs will not negatively impact a student’s grade. There must be meaningful opportunities for students to make up work outside of virtual instruction.
- No employee’s pay, regardless of employee bargaining unit, will be negatively impacted by the decision to have a VID. This includes custodians, cafeteria workers, etc.
Describe the school system’s plan to ensure that all students (especially students who are homeless, students with disabilities, and English learner students) and teachers have the necessary devices at home for virtual days and have access to Wi-Fi.
Since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) has focused its efforts on ensuring that all students have the necessary devices at home to engage in Virtual Day Instruction. Every AACPS student has been issued a Chromebook for home use. In addition, we have worked with our Internet Service Providers to make sure that students and their families have Internet Service. We have issued mobile hot spots to families who are without internet but within cell tower range to acquire an internet signal.
If Internet service is cut or marginalized due to inclement conditions or other type of emergency, students with a phone available for use at home will be able to connect with their peers and the teacher in Google Meet sessions through a voice-only connection. Additionally, teachers will place the Virtual Day Instruction work in our Learning Management System, Brightspace, so that students (and families) have access to these materials when they return to school or when they get to a relative’s or friend’s home where there is an Internet connection available. There will be no penalty levied on these students or any of our AACPS students who struggle to connect virtually due to a faulty internet connection, and all students who have a need to do so will receive meaningful opportunities to make up work or receive additional support.
Describe the plan to provide the student with a free appropriate public education and implement the learning continuity plan in the student’s IEP (including specially designed instruction, related services, supplementary aides & services, & accommodations
Using our new Learning Management System, Brightspace, we can digitally house all AACPS academic and social emotional learning resources and support materials for student use. Using Google Meet, teachers and related service providers will connect with their students live for synchronous instruction or individual support services throughout the virtual school day. Specialized services will be provided synchronously in accordance with each individual student’s IEP. Our English Learning Development (ELD) students will connect live with their teachers in their classrooms via Google Meet as well. ESOL teachers and other Teaching Assistants and support personnel will be present in these Google Meet sessions.
Accommodations will be honored to the extent we can do so in the virtual environment. Should compensatory services be warranted for an individual student, we will document need and add appropriate service hours to the student’s IEP.
The completed Dept. required Virtual Day Instruction Plan & Attestation Template must be publicly presented & discussed at a local school board meeting. (continued below)
Date of Local Board of Education Meeting(s):
The AACPS Virtual Day Instruction Plan was publicly presented and discussed at the Board of Education’s regular session on September 6, 2023. The plan was posted on the school system’s website, http://www.aacps.org/virtualdayplan, on September 6, 2023, and public comment was invited through September 15, 2023. The Board was provided with that comment in advance of its September 20, 2023, meeting and approved the plan at that meeting.
Describe the communication process to students, teachers, parents/guardians, etc. that the day will be virtual (synchronous or asynchronous) and the plan for instruction.
All students and families have been made aware of the importance of having their Chromebook at home, charged, and ready to use should the need arise for them to learn virtually from home. AACPS will continue to remind staff, students, and families to have devices ready at home on a daily basis. Communication will come through principal newsletters, in-school announcements, automated mass notification email and text messages to families as well as postings to all AACPS social media sites. Information will also be posted to the school system’s main website, www.aacps.org, and the AACPS Virtual Day Instruction page, www.aacps.org/virtualdayplan.
- Student, Parents/Guardians, and Staff will be told that Virtual Days will not negatively impact a student’s grade. In addition, there will be meaningful opportunities for students to make up work outside of virtual learning.
- The student attendance procedures for synchronous and asynchronous Virtual Instruction Days will be clearly communicated by the school system and all school-based principals. Teachers will post these attendance procedures in each of their Brightspace Courses where all students, parents, and guardians can view them.
Describe how attendance will be taken on asynchronous days.
Teachers will log asynchronous VID day student attendance into PowerSchool similar to the manner in which they log in-person student attendance on a daily basis.
Describe any other days that are anticipated for the use of a virtual day in your LEA.
AACPS plans to use VIDs on days on which inclement weather is too severe to have students and staff travel to and from schools.
NOTE: Emergency situations such as power outages, water/plumbing challenges, and storm, fire or other extreme damage to school structure(s) – rendering them unavailable for use –could result in a school moving to virtual instruction. Such was the case with these occurrences in the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years so that precious instructional time was not lost. However, these circumstances would not constitute the use of any of our eight allowable VIDs due to the targeted nature of the closure (not entire grade bands or levels of students across the district).
Describe any other factors particular to the plan for virtual days in your LEA.
During synchronous Virtual Day Instruction, we will provide a full instructional virtual day with an extended lunch break for students during midday. Our virtual schedules for all grade levels are posted at www.aacps.org/studentschedules and reflect what we are currently using for in-person instruction as well as our VID schedules. All full-day students will receive at least 4 hours of live synchronous instruction during the VIDs.
Teachers have received significant professional development on how to use our new Learning Management System, Brightspace, and the virtual meeting platform, Google Meet, to support virtual learning. Athletics and co-curricular activities may be cancelled or postponed on VIDs and rescheduled for future date(s), depending on the extent of school closures and the subsequent extent of the VID day use.
A SYNCHRONOUS VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION DAY MUST HAVE A MINIMUM OF 4 HOURS OF VIRTUAL SYNCHRONOUS INSTRUCTION FOR ALL STUDENTS.
The schedules for PreK through 12th grade students can be found at www.aacps.org/studentschedules . You will see that every student has at least four hours of synchronous instruction and an extended lunch allowing for time to play or rest as needed by individual students.