Montgomery Co. Health Officer rescinds order that kept nonpublic schools closed

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — The Montgomery County Health Department has conceded to Governor Hogan’s office, rescinding a public health order that would have kept non-public schools from opening for in-person classes until after October 1.

County Health Officer Travis Gayles says he is still against in-person instruction because of the risks from COVID-19, but will agree to follow the state’s previous decision from earlier this week that allowed non-public schools to make its own decision.

Governor Hogan responded later Friday afternoon, pleased with the county’s decision.

Gayles is now asking the State Health Department to be more clear on criteria schools and families would have to follow and what data metrics would have to be met before school starts in-person this fall safely.

Organizer of “Re-open Montgomery County Private Schools” Bob Carey says he believes private schools have the ability to hold in-person instruction while also following proper guidelines.

“I fully believe Dr. Gayles has the best interests of the community at heart. I fully believe that schools and their parents have the best interests of the community and the best interests of the children at heart,” Carey said. “What we’re asking is that we also take into consideration the cost of not bringing back in-person education which is substantial.”

Carey said they are looking to speak with the Governor’s officce, the Montgomery County Council and Dr. Gayles to discuss and collaborate on regulations and metrics to keep private schools safe when they reopen.

This back-and-forth began last week when the Montgomery County Health Department sent out a blanket statement that ordered nonpublic schools to stay closed for the beginning of the school year.

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