Governor Larry Hogan today held a press conference to provide an update on Maryland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage schools to offer in-person learning in the fall.
Governor Hogan said that “it is absolutely critical that we begin the process of getting our children safely and gradually back into the classrooms” in order for Maryland to “keep moving forward and to keep making progress” as there is “no substitute for in-person instruction.” Hogan also clarified that all county school systems are authorized to prepare for in-person learning.
According to Governor Hogan, Maryland’s COVID-19 positivity rate has declined by more than 87% since its peak in April, and is currently 3.3%. Last week, all counties reported COVID-19 positivity rates of under 5%, with the majority of jurisdictions under 3.5%.
Maryland Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Jinlene Chan announced a new set of county-specific benchmarks to guide school reopening decisions based on metrics, which include test positivity and case rates that reflect the level of community transmission. Dr. Chan said that the health metrics show that all districts “could open for some level of in-person instruction.”
Governor Hogan said his administration would “put pressure” on local school systems to reevaluate reopening plans and include some form of in-person learning. The Maryland State Education Association — the state’s largest union — said the governor’s announcement is “a recipe for chaos & confusion.”
State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon announced the state will make $10 million in grant funding available to help systems move toward in-person instruction and encouraged local school systems to reevaluate their mode of instruction towards the end of the first quarter, especially those that have indicated they will maintain a virtual delivery system until January 2021.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.