School systems, families react to Hogan’s reopening deadline

Maryland

ROCKVILLE, Md (WDVM) – In a press conference on Thursday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan called on county school systems to reopen their doors for hybrid learning by March 1. This announcement sparked excitement for some and concerns from others

Citing health statistics and the detriment of online learning, Governor Larry Hogan argued for school systems to prepare their classrooms for a hybrid learning model.

“Every single Maryland student must have at least the opportunity to return to attending school in some form or fashion,” Hogan said. “… Our children simply cannot afford any more endless roadblocks, or any more moving of the goalposts. The time has come to get all of our kids back in the classroom and to open the schools.”

Local school systems have been preparing for this day, as they face pressure from families petitioning for schools to open their doors.

Deborah Schoenfeld, a nurse from Montgomery County, says she put her kids in private school because of the closures but considers putting them back into the public school system when they reopen.

“I feel very safe with having my kids in those cohorts and in school every day,” Deborah Schoenfeld said. “… I think there’s no reason that MCPS can’t do what the private schools in Montgomery County have done successfully.”

Montgomery county public schools responded to Hogan’s announcement, saying they are “deeply concerned by the abrupt change to the health metrics guidance set forth by the state given that we are in the height of the pandemic.”

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is committed to the safe return to in-person learning for all students. Today (Jan. 21), Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon provided an update on the state’s recovery efforts. During the press conference, they announced a change in approach to following specific health metrics for a safe return to in-person learning and demanded that school districts across the state reopen for in-person instruction by March 1. While we appreciate the commitment to provide additional resources to assist local districts with reopening efforts, we are deeply concerned by the abrupt change to the health metrics guidance set forth by the state given that we are in the height of the pandemic.

We know many in our community will have questions about what this announcement means for our students, staff and the MCPS recovery plan. Please allow us time to thoughtfully assess these important developments and continue to prepare for a successful start to the second semester. We will continue to collaborate closely with our state and county health officials and leaders. We know that they understand and share our sense of urgency in getting students back in buildings as soon as possible and as safely as possible. Our focus remains on the academic needs and the health and safety of our students and staff. 

Statement from Montgomery County Public Schools

The Montgomery County Education Association also put out a statement, saying the staff and students’ health and safety should be considered first before getting students back into school buildings.

“Getting students back in school is our main priority as well, but we need to take the health and safety of both educators and students into consideration first. We cannot in good conscience send folks back into school buildings without ensuring that all of the necessary safety protocols are in place, including adequate HVAC in buildings, PPE and social distancing requirements of students, and special consideration of ESOL, Special Education, and 12-month employees. As much as we are concerned about learning loss in the interim, we are more concerned about the loss of life.”

Montgomery County Education Association President Chris Lloyd

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