TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Samantha Smith is the mother of two young students in the Baltimore County Public School system and she’s outraged over the superintendent’s sudden announcement this week that some children can go back for in-person instruction in November—months earlier than initially planned.


“They keep pulling the rug out from under us every time we make a plan,” Smith said. “How can you expect teachers to be safe returning to school? How can you expect children to be safe?”


The teachers’ union is upset too. They cite the lack of notice and questions about safety. There could be more than ten thousand special education, kindergarten and Pre-K students back in class within eight weeks.


“Our bargaining unit got a heads up about 90 minutes before the emails went out to the whole school system, and we were shocked,” Cindy Sexton of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “We want to be back in the classroom but we want a safe, durable reopening.”

The union is considering legal action but has made no final decision on that yet. “Teachers with pre-existing conditions are terrified because we don’t know what the plans are. They don’t know if they have to leave, what are their leave options going to be. How are they going to provide for their family?”


This comes as Howard County announced it will soon bring some small groups of students back to class although the district gave no exact timeline.

Carroll County started bringing some students back this week in special education and career and tech programs.

And Baltimore City schools sent out a letter warning of a dire financial situation because of money spent on laptops and hotspots and concerns about less funding coming in from the state and federal governments. There is now a hiring freeze in place.


“The letter does create some fear. I haven’t been notified nor has anyone in Baltimore Teachers’ Union leadership that any layoffs are imminent,” said union president Diamontè Brown.

City schools told WJZ they will provide an update on in-person instruction by October 16th.

Governor Larry Hogan has praised schools that are able to reopen to some students—he did so again at an online forum Friday morning.

“There’s no substitute for some kids for in-person instruction. Currently, more than two-thirds of all of our county school systems have developed and submitted plans that include returning some children to school for at least some in-person instruction this fall,” the governor said Friday.

For parent Samantha Smith, who told us she recovered from COVID—19, health is a priority.

“I was flabbergasted—not only on behalf of the safety of my children but also on behalf of the safety of the teachers—because it feels like they were completely disregarded and they’re seen as employees and pawns and not people,” she said.

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.

  1. King Julian says:

    he should be fired, teachers have spent hundreds setting up their virtual classrooms, then he announces this without telling the teachers, parents, students, school board and especiallty the county exe. Its time you fire him Little O

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