Washington-area schools inch toward reopening plans, stirring strong emotions among parents, teachers and students

And in Virginia, Loudoun County Public Schools, Arlington Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools — representing nearly 230,000 students combined — decided this week to proceed with plans that will return several thousand children to school buildings starting in October. All three school systems are prioritizing returning students with disabilities, English-language learners and very young children.

Meanwhile Maryland’s largest school system, in Montgomery County, also took a first step toward in-person learning Friday evening, giving its labor unions a required 45-day notice. Superintendent Jack R. Smith said in a joint letter with union leaders that the notice did not mean in-person learning would begin in 45 days, but rather that it would open the way for bargaining and planning for an eventual return.

The goal is to phase in small groups of students for on-campus instruction during the first semester if health conditions permit, said spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala. She

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