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Coronavirus Closings: Baltimore City Schools Respond To Pandemic, Will Offer Free Meals To Students

**AS OF MARCH 13TH @ 4:00 PM**

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Schools officials discussed what parents, students and staff should expect during the two-week closure of city public schools during a press conference Friday morning.

Gov. Larry Hogan closed all public schools in the state from March 16 to March 27. Baltimore City Schools were previously scheduled to be closed Friday for staff professional development.

All school activities including school day instruction, child care, health services, enrichment, extra-curricular activities, preschool, athletics and club sports are canceled throughout this period.

The district office will remain open to conduct essential operations including communications, cleaning school buildings and supporting educators, school leaders, families and students.

“We’re encouraging all non-essential district staff to work from home,” said city schools superintendent Sonja Brookins Santelises.

Santelises said that her office has been planning for weeks for a range of scenarios including closures so they feel prepared.

“I don’t major in worry because I don’t think it’s productive,” Santelises said. “This is the time when I’m very blessed to have an excellent team.”

Santelises said city partners and Mayor Jack Young are discussing options for where kids can go and will add more information online once decisions are made.

“It absolutely is a challenge,” she said.

She also requested the school board approve a plan that would let schools use Spring Break days as make-up days.

Here’s how to get a free meal from Baltimore City Schools while they are closed:

  • The schools will operate eight emergency food distribution sites across the city. The list is available here.

  • The sites will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Free meals will be available for students ages 18 and under, as well as people with disabilities over the age of 18 who participate in school programs.

  • Due to the governor’s restrictions regarding group sizes, these won’t be group meals. The food will be in the form of take-out or grab-and-go packages.

  • Schools will also work with city and private partners to identify other resources for food distribution and access for the week of March 23.

Here’s what will be cleaned while school is out:

  • While the schools are closed, 153 school buildings and offices will be deep cleaned, including high traffic/touch areas.

  • The schools ordered and will restock items like disinfectant, soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels and gloves.

  • School buses will also be cleaned both the school-owned and the 350 contractor school buses.

  • The district also used 400 taxicabs daily to transport students and all those cab companies have been instructed to disinfect their vehicles as well.

Here’s how students will continue to learn while schools are closed:

  • Students will also have instructional work packets by grad level available online for students starting Monday, March 16 as well as for pick-up at your child’s school starting Tuesday, March 17 through Thursday, March 19 between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • The work is instructional activities for students, but won’t be graded.

  • “Although this work is voluntary, I strongly encourage families to pick up their child’s packet to help sustain their educational involvement during the period of closure,” Santelises said.

  • The packets will also be translated in Spanish and five other languages.

  • The schools’ College and Career Ready team is working with the College Board to reschedule SAT testing that was scheduled during the closure, Santelises said.

The meal sites include:

  • Sandtown-Winchester Achievement Academy 701 Gold St. (410) 396-0800

  • Dorothy I. Height Elementary School 2011 Linden Ave. (410) 396-0837

  • Alexander Hamilton Elementary School 800 Poplar Grove St. (410) 396-0520

  • The Historic Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School 801 Bridgeview Road (410) 396-1392

  • Yorkwood Elementary School 5931 Yorkwood Road (410) 396-6364

  • John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle School 701 Rappolla St. (410) 396-9125

  • Arlington Elementary School 3705 W. Rogers Ave. (410) 396-0567

  • Beechfield Elementary/Middle School 301 S. Beechfield Ave. (410) 396-0525

  • Sinclair Lane Elementary School 3880 Sinclair Lane (410) 396-9117

  • Paul Laurence Dunbar High School 1400 Orleans St. (443) 642-4478

More information can be found at COVID-19 Hotline for schools: 443-984-2000.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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