ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — As some Maryland students begin to head back to the classroom nearly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, some state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would give students the option to take part in a full-time online public school program.

The legislation would allow the state, a county or public higher education institution to create a tuition-free virtual public school program. Under the bill, students would be able to attend any public virtual school in the state regardless of where they live.

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As proposed, virtual schools would not be able to enroll more than one percent of school-aged children in each county.

Del. Kathy Szeliga, a Republican representing portions of Baltimore and Harford counties, introduced House Bill 1170 in the House of Delegates, saying in a news release that some students have thrived in the online learning environment.

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“I know that full-time online public school isn’t for everyone, but I also know that it’s the right fit for a growing number of families,” Szeliga, a former teacher, said in the release. “Now is the time to enable Maryland’s public schools to give students the option to thrive in virtual learning.”

The House Ways and Means Committee is set to hear the legislation on Wednesday.

The legislation has been cross-filed in the state Senate. That bill, Senate Bill 941, is being sponsored by Sen. Edward Reilly (R-Anne Arundel County).

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CBS Baltimore Staff