ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland schools will remain closed through May 15. Officials said they would continue to evaluate the moving situation before making an ultimate decision about schools closing.
“After extensive consultation with the State Board of Education and leading public health experts in the state. I am extending the closure of schools, through May 15,” State Schools Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon said Friday.
Salmon addressed Maryland parents, students and teachers during Gov. Larry Hogan’s press conference.
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“With regards to the remainder of the school year in the summer, we will use this time to examine every option and continue to develop a long term plan for recovery,” Salmon added.
DC officials closed the district schools early on May 29 and moved to online learning through the remainder of the year.
Maryland schools have been closed since March 13 and Salmon previously announced schools would remain closed until April 24.
“In a very short timeframe school systems have continued to increase their digital presence and capabilities to provide learning opportunities to all students all school systems must submit these continuity of learning plans to the Maryland State Department of Education for review,” Salmon said.
Salmon had previously made that announcement during a school board meeting earlier this week. The plans must include their distance learning platform, the technology they have available and how the students who don’t have access to the device or the internet will learn.
The plans will also describe the roles and responsibilities of school administrators, instructional assistants, students, and parents. They must also describe how their school system plans to address equity, including special education, English learners, homeless students, students with academic needs and gifted students. They must also determine how teachers and staff will continue professional development and what resources will be available to students and teachers.
“We are helping school systems, obtain these resources such as additional devices platforms for learning and expanded broadband capabilities that they need to carry out their plans in equitable and meaningful ways,” Salmon said. “We are hopeful that the additional $207 million in funding from the federal CARES ACT, 90% of which will go directly to local school systems, will help address gaps and the availability of these resources.”
Any lost instructional time may end up being made up over the summer.
“State and local school officials are preparing for a number of scenarios, depending on when our educators and students would be able to reenter school buildings,” she added.
Salmon said the uncertainty has created anxiety across the school communities, especially for high school seniors.
“We want seniors and their families to have an opportunity to recognize their wonderful accomplishments from their time in high school and receive their diplomas,” she added. “I will let you know that local superintendents have been working on a number of creative alternatives to ensure our high school seniors receive the recognition they deserve.”
Baltimore County elementary school teacher and Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) President Cheryl Bost released the following statement:
“This is the right decision for the safety and health of our students, educators, and state. Educators will continue to do our best for our students as together we navigate the challenges of crisis distance learning. We know that this type of learning is no substitute for in-person learning, and we will need to be thoughtful and serious about how we help students recover from this crisis. Recent weeks have magnified existing inequities—whether of technology access, food security, or otherwise—that our students face every day and that challenge their ability to succeed in school. We must come together to address these issues over the short- and long-term. Everyone’s safety is paramount, but we remain hopeful that educators and students will be able to spend time together again at their schools before this school year is over.”