Local Education

What you need to know about D.C., Virginia and Maryland public schools this year

Washington Post reporters answer questions to help DMV parents and guardians navigate the pandemic school year.
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The District

What kind of learning are the schools offering: In-person, fully remote or hybrid?

D.C. Public Schools — which educates 52,000 students, just over half of the city’s public school students — will be all-virtual until at least the end of the first quarter, Nov. 6. The District’s more than 60 charter school operators are allowed to make their own decisions about how will they will operate. However, most charter schools — including the two largest charter networks, KIPP DC and Friendship — will be following the school system’s lead and go all-virtual. A few smaller charter schools say they will have some in-person learning components. The D.C. Public Charter School Board is maintaining an updated list of each charter school’s plans. It can be found here.

» Find out more about the District’s plans.


What is the length of the remote school day?

Elementary school students will receive roughly 5 1/2 hours of instruction each day — with time built in for movement breaks; a sample schedule is available here. Middle-schoolers and high-schoolers will follow bell schedules, representing roughly 5 1/2 hours of teaching each day. A sample middle-school schedule is available here; a high-school schedule here.

»Find out more about Arlington’s plans.

Fairfax County

Are there plans for in-person learning, possibly with a hybrid approach, in the future?

Shortly after Sept. 8, Fairfax County plans to start bringing small, specific groups of students back to classrooms in what the school system is calling a “cohort” approach. Initially, officials will bring in preschool-age autistic students, English language learners who have received little formal education, those participating in specialized high school academy courses and those enrolled in adult and community education classes such as workforce training and behind-the-wheel driver’s education.

» Find out more about Fairfax County’s plans.

The second group to return will include more English language learners and more high school academy students, as well as prekindergartners, kindergartners and Key Center and Kilmer Center students. The third group will include still more high school academy students, first- and second-graders and Burke School elementary school students.


How much real-time instruction is there?

In Alexandria, students at all grade levels will receive live instruction four days a week, Tuesday through Friday, with Mondays typically set aside for independent work. On the days that involve live instruction, all elementary school students will receive roughly five hours of real-time instruction. Middle-schoolers will sit through roughly 4 1/2 hours of live teaching, and high-schoolers will have closer to five.

» Find out more about Alexandria’s plans.

Loudoun County

Are exceptions to all-virtual learning being made for students in special education or for other student groups, so that they may come to campus in small groups?

Students attending the Monroe Advanced Technical Academy will attend one day of in-person school each week starting on Sept. 8. Loudoun County is planning to bring some special-education students who choose the option back for hybrid learning on Oct. 13; and the school district plans to bring some English Language Learners back for hybrid learning on Oct. 27.

» Find out more about Loudoun County’s plans.

Montgomery County

What have the schools done to provide devices to students?

The Montgomery County school system has distributed more than 125,000 loaner Chromebook laptops to students in prekindergarten through grade 12 since the pandemic hit and intends to distribute more, with a goal of a device for every student as the school year begins.

» Find out more about Montgomery County’s plans.

Prince George’s County

How do parents or students get support if they have technology issues?

Parent support centers” are being opened in Prince George’s County to help families with technology needs. Parents may call 240-696-6229 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, starting Aug. 31, for live assistance on technology or instructional issues. Families may also call their child’s school.

» Find out more about Prince George’s County’s plans.

Illustrations by iStock.

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