Maryland School systems required to offer full in-person learning for upcoming school year

Maryland

The Maryland Department of the Environment approved about $1.3 million to fund electric and propane-fueled school buses for Frederick County.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WDVM) — In a unanimous vote, the Maryland State Board of Education’s will be requiring Maryland school systems to offer full in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year.

Governor Hogan shared the following statement on Tuesday on the decision,

“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.”

The idea to vote on the issue wasn’t made public before the Board of Education meeting, but members seemed to feel strongly about their decision. Several expressed their concerns for the well-being of Maryland’s children.

“I think this is necessary, I think that we are doing harm to children,” said Clarence Crawford, President of the Maryland State Board of Education. “The impact of this COVID period could potentially last for a lifetime.”

Returning kids to school has been a highly debated issue for months, but many high-ranking state officials — from the governor to the president of the State Education Association — are largely in favor of ending remote learning due to factors like the digital divide and declining student mental health.

Although many feel virtual learning has had its downsides, some officials believe it at least helped educators expand their teaching styles.

“We have seen learnings come out of this. One, we have seen students who are succeeding in a virtual environment … If we can integrate this into their daily educational program, that might be a good idea for our students,” said Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association.

The decision is not set in stone, and board members said they will be watching pandemic trends closely to make sure it’s safe for students in the fall.

“We don’t know what’s to come. Whether there’ll be spikes, whether there’ll be variants that, you know, cause a lot more people to be sick,” Bost said about what the BOE may decide when the summer is over.

So far, there hasn’t been any public discussion about whether any students or families will be required to get vaccinated before returning.

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