BALTIMORE (WJZ) – The Maryland State Education Association will be hosting a virtual education forum for gubernatorial candidates on Jan. 26.

The statewide educators’ union has invited all candidates for governor who have said they plan to pursue the association’s endorsement for the 2022 election to attend the forum, according to a news release.

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Reporters will be able to question forum participants via a live Zoom meeting, which will be streamed and recorded on the union’s Facebook page.

The forum will start at 8 p.m. and end at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 26. The union will likely make public its final endorsement vote, which requires a 58% majority, in April.

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“The endorsement vote will ultimately be taken by the 500+ MSEA Representative Assembly delegates, who are elected in each county by their colleagues,” the union said.

The forum comes at a critical time for Maryland. Parents and teachers have expressed concern about the spread of COVID-19 among school staff and students. More than one-third of Baltimore’s schools—60 out of 155 schools—delayed in-person teaching in January due to the high number of COVID-19 cases.

“I’m super worried. It put me into a dark place. I’m scared. I am afraid,” mother Khayah Benjamin told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren earlier this month. Benjamin has a second-grader whose pod tested positive at George Washington Elementary. That school remains open.

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Meanwhile, Baltimore County Schools has resumed classes. Anne Arundel County Public Schools has re-opened for in-person classes too.

CBS Baltimore Staff