Preparations continue to return to hybrid learning


  “If health officials feel that it is safe to return, I trust their judgment as I am not a medical expert. It is extremely important to follow all of the guidance provided by the CDC to keep everyone safe,” says Chrystie Crawford-Smick, president of the Harford County Education Association. 

     Harford County schools are starting to be reopened, meaning the preparations are already in motion. Crawford-Smick states that “HCPS has purchased plexiglass dividers, a more extensive cleaning schedule has been developed, an additional custodian has been allocated for each school building and HCEA and HCPS have developed a health and safety checklist that will be used by the Health and Safety team at each building to address any areas of concern.”

     Crawford-Smick believes that if everyone follows the rules, everyone can return to school safely. If for any reason, issues arise, they should be addressed “immediately and appropriately”. Along with that Crawford-Smick stated, “Now more than ever, the decisions we make as individuals impact others. We all must follow the guidance to keep our community safe.”

     There will be many strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 mentions Crawford-Smick, including masks, physical barriers, and distancing anywhere possible. She also assumes that “desks will be spaced more than normal, and the cafeteria set up will look very different.”

     According to Baltimore Sun, many families from six different districts, including Harford, have called on Governor Larry Hogan to give the option for in-person learning. “School systems throughout the country, including our local nonpublic schools in Maryland, continue to stay open and operate. We ask that public school children throughout the State of Maryland have the same opportunity,” the groups wrote.

     Crawford-Smick says that it is important to get feedback from HCPS leadership, “it is our job as an Association to listen to the needs of our members and relay that information to HCPS.” Crawford-Smick also reports that they have always been planning to reopen but that “A few weeks ago Governor Hogan and Dr. Salmon removed the health metrics from the Maryland school guidance document, we then knew the local plan needed to be adjusted. I am grateful that our local metrics continue to drop, which is helpful as HCPS implements the updated CDC guidance and buildings re-open.”

     “Getting students and staff back to school remains our priority, and we will continue discussions with county health leaders in addition to following any guidance provided by the state,” Jillian Lader, the communications manager for HCPS wrote in an email. 

     Crawford-Smick believes that students will adjust well due to her experience teaching. “I have always admired the resiliency of my students. In my career, I taught grades 6-12 and I have always been impressed with my student’s ability to adjust to change.”

     Although Crawford-Smick has high hopes, she also clarifies that “This is not a one size fits all type of situation, so our members have a wide range of opinions regarding reopening school buildings.” She also states that she hopes there will be “enough availability to vaccinate all school staff in the next few weeks.”