ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Maryland Schools Superintendent says new research shows that schools are reopening safely and have not been super spreader sites.

Dr. Karen Salmon says it’s critical for students to return to a hybrid learning plan for their second semester.

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“We need to reopen our schools because the risk of keeping them closed is far greater,” Salmon said.

It’s the latest update from the Maryland Board of Education.

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

On Tuesday, Salmon shared new data and research about schools nationwide reopening during the pandemic.

She says recent studies show mask-wearing and physical distance of one-meter have a significant risk reduction of transmitting COVID-19.

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In a presentation with local school and state health department leaders, Salmon says available information shows the pandemic has had a large and uneven impact on student learning.

She says some students in Montgomery County are struggling and failing grades for the first term have increased dramatically.

With a vaccine on the horizon, school board members asked state health officials about their plan to vaccinate teachers, questioning if it will protect them and get students back in school.

Health officials say it’s already in discussion.

“In phase two, we began to shift our focus into those who are essential and critical infrastructure employees and those very much include teachers and school staff,” Dr. Jinlene Chan, of the Maryland Department of Health, said.

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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.

Kelsey Kushner