ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — All county school systems in Maryland are authorized to safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, though decisions will be made at the local level, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday.

Hogan, Maryland State Department of Education Superintendent Karen Salmon and Maryland Department of Health Acting Deputy Secretary Dr. Jinlene Chan made the announcement at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The trio provided a list of metrics the health and education departments recommend school systems use to determine when to reopen or whether to offer hybrid, in-person learning. Among the metrics are test positivity rates and case rates per 100,000 people.

READ MORE: Maryland School Systems Respond To Hogan’s Announcement That Some In-Person Learning Is Safe Statewide

Chan said all counties are at a level where some form of in-person learning could take place.

Should an outbreak occur, Chan said local health and school officials would weigh what steps need to be taken, including whether to re-close schools.

Schools that reopen will still need to follow physical distancing guidelines and should follow cleaning and disinfection guidelines.

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The governor said there is “broad and overwhelming agreement” among parents, education experts and public health leaders that finding a safe way for kids to go back to school should be a top priority.

While he won’t order schools to reopen, Hogan said local school officials should review their reopening plans using the new guidance.

“Our Maryland economy is getting back on track and making a steady recovery, but in order for us to keep moving forward and to keep making progress, it is absolutely critical that we begin the process of getting our children safely and gradually back into the classrooms,” Hogan said.

READ MORE: Maryland Back To School 2020 | County-By-County Decisions On School Reopenings Amid COVID-19

He added parents had been expressing frustrations that while the state’s coronavirus metrics were improving, no changes were being made to reopening plans.

“Every single day I hear from parents, all across the state who are extremely frustrated with the fact that even though our health metrics statewide and in every single county look great and are continuing to dramatically improve, some of the county school boards have not even attempted to develop any safe reopening plans which would bring any kids back for any form of in-person instruction,” Hogan said, calling that unacceptable.

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Of the 24 public school systems in the state, 16 have plans that include some form of in-person learning during the fall, while eight, including Baltimore and Harford counties, plan to keep students learning online through the end of the first semester.

Salmon strongly encouraged school systems to re-evaluate how they plan to educate students by the end of the first quarter of the school year, especially if they planned to keep virtual learning in place through January.

In addition, the state is making $10 million in grant funding available to schools to help them move back toward in-person learning.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: 

Maryland State Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter that expecting schools to switch to in-person learning days before classes are set to resume is “unreasonable.”

“We’d likely have more local school district consistency on reopening if the State had provided *any* guidance whatsoever prior to TEN DAYS before the planned start of SY 2020-21,” he tweeted.

The Maryland State Education Association called Thursday’s announcement “a recipe for chaos and confusion.”

“The state abdicated responsibility for months for creating reopening standards & told districts to develop their own plans. Now they undercut hard decisions schools have made to keep students & educators safe days before the year begins,” the union tweeted.

Baltimore City Public Schools plan to have a virtual reopening town hall at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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.

CBS Baltimore Staff

Comments (5)
  1. I knew that Hogan was a wolf in sheeps’ clothing (undercover Trumpster). He totally ignored the health concerns of the teachers. Let’s not forget that Hogan is no friend of PG Co. public schools. He wanted to cut back funds to the county, and he has opposed almost all funding needed to help PG Co. schools

  2. King Julian says:

    keep them closed , 1 week heads up is ridiculous, states that opened had to close again. if its not safe for adult college students how can it be safe for kids in K-12.

  3. Goth says:

    Keep the schools closed. If some parents want to send their children to school so be it, however for the parents like myself who wish to continue remote learning we should have that choice! This is certainly nothing to rush back into. I agree one week heads up is ridiculous. Safety first!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Any parent who values their kids will NOT let them go back to school. Many of the colleges that started up have seen spikes & send the kids home until further notice. Keep your kids at home, educating them is ultimately YOUR responsibility not the state’s. I would rather have my kids graduate high school at 19 or 20 than have them get and spread COVID- maybe die form it or maybe I will, their grandparents, our elderly neighbor……….. Kids can be super spreaders and, face it, a lot of them think they are invincible or are too young to really understand how dangerous this is, DH was watching the convention tonight and our 6 year old knew who Trump was and saw all the people w/o masks and asked if it was over and she did ot have to wear a mask anymore. That is the message Trump & the RNC sends……. They are fools!

  5. Mary Jane K. says:

    They seem to be forgetting a lot of teachers, school employees and bus drivers will not go back to work if they think it is not safe. There are lots of openings for online teachers now, they pay well & big signing bonuses to get qualified teachers. My sister teaches in PG Co & she just took a job w/ an online academy people who can afford private schools are flocking to.

    To “anonymous” thanks for illustrating the only ones who believE Trump’s lies about the virus- little kids who also believe in Santa Clause. It’s funny he points to what is going on in many cities and says that is what a Biden America would look like… he is the least racist president ever… he brought back law and order ……..when it is happening here and now in a Trump America LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL If that is what Trump thinks law and order looks like, I think Biden can do better, well most anyone could at this point with all the riots, violence, bad race issues, COVID, kids scared to go to school double digit unemployment his armed supporters so scared they are shooting & waving guns at people… cops shooting unarmed men in the back for the crime of being an African American. Folks, that is not GREAT

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