ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — The Maryland State Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a resolution for all schools to reopen for in-person instruction, five days a week, this fall.

“I’m excited. It’s been a long time coming. I’d be ready tomorrow,” said Jessica Foster, a mother of a Baltimore County student.

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It’s a decision that she and parent Dave Cummings say they’ve been waiting for, after more than a year of virtual and hybrid learning.

“I think that’s great news,” he said. “It’s definitely been challenging with all the various Internet issues and things going on and trying to have a second-grader learn from a computer screen, not having any interaction with her peers or anything has been tough.”

Gov. Larry Hogan welcomed the vote, saying the science supports getting back into the classroom full-time.

“The science supports getting our children back into school for in-person learning, and every student in Maryland should have that opportunity right now. To encourage the safe reopening of schools, the state has committed more than $1.2 billion in funding, prioritized teachers for vaccines, and provided all the necessary PPE, testing, and guidance. Families and students deserve certainty that all school systems will return to full in-person learning. To address the academic and emotional toll of prolonged online instruction, today’s vote is an important step toward getting things back to normal,” he said in a statement.

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But Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, said many school systems are planning already to go back to a normal schedule in the fall.

“To me, it seemed more like grandstanding on the part of the state superintendent to make this big resolution. When all along, as I’ve worked with educators, principals and other system leaders, this is what we’ve been working towards,” Bost said.  “We’ve been working towards getting our schools up to par with health and safety standards.. making sure we can provide tutoring and summer school for our students. So I think we were all working towards that; we didn’t need a resolution to tell us that.”

Not only that, but the resolution highlighted the deficits of virtual learning and lacked support, Bost said.

“I would have rather the resolution outline all the supports and help and everything that the state board’s going to do for our local districts and our educators to help us get there in the fall instead of just telling us that we’re going to get there,” she said. “So to work on all of the things that are needed to bring our students back collaboratively, I think it would have been better stated in a positive, what we’re looking to do, instead of all of the ‘You haven’t done this, you haven’t done this, and this is why people aren’t doing well, so you better go back.'”

Families still have the option to opt out of in-person learning and remain remote in the fall. You can read the full resolution here.

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