The Governor also announces some strong actions against the spread of COVID-19,
Annapolis, Md (KM) All public schools in Maryland will be closed for two weeks starting on Monday, March 16th, and continuing through Friday, March 27th. That announcement was made by State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon during the Governor’s news conference on the coronavirus. “It is crucial that we take immediate measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in school communities around the state,” she said.
During the time schools are closed, Dr. Salmon says school systems will clean and disinfect buildings and buses.
She urges administrators, faculty, staff, parents and guardians use that time to continue educational services for students.
As part of Thursday’s announcement, Dr. Salmon says the Maryland State Department of Education is developing childcare services to make sure that kids whose parents are emergency services personnel, especially those in the health care field, have access to childcare during this prolonged closure. “We have started to work immediately to insure that vital services, such as the provision of meals to students, will continue to be provided throughout the duration of this school closure period,” she said.
These actions were taken following reports of a Prince George’s County resident contracting the coronavirus through community transmission, meaning that person did not receive it through overseas travel or exposure to an infected individual.
At that same news conference, Governor Larry Hogan announced some steps that he’s taking to slow the spread of COVID-19. “The circumstances of this case indicate that we are entering a new phase of this crisis in our state,” he said. “We should expect the number of cases to dramatically and rapidly rise.”
The Governor on Thursday said he’s raising the activation of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to a higher level. “I’ve just enacted an executive to activate the National Guard and move the Guard to a higher state of readiness to carry out any necessary functions and critical areas of need in the coming weeks,” he said.
He also said mass gatherings will be limited in size. “I have enacted an executive order prohibiting any social, community, religious, recreational. or sports gatherings or events of more than 250 people in close proximity at all locations and venues across the state,” the Governor.said. “All planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed. All senior activity centers will be closed until Maryland is no longer operating under state of emergency.”
Last week, Governor Hogan declared a state of emergency after the first cases of the novel coronavirus were detected in Maryland.
Other actions taken by the Governor include the closure of the cruise terminal at the Port of Baltimore for any passenger vessel which made a port of call outside of the United States since January 31st, 2020. He also ordered the extension of the deadlines for expiring permits and licenses, including driver’s licenses. There will also be suspension of visits to correctional facilities, and non-essential state employees will be e required to telework. Access to state government buildings is restricted, including the State House, where legislators are meeting for the 2020 Maryland General Assembly.
Hospitals are also encouraged to limit visitations.
Day-to-day operations pf the state will be manged by Lt Governor Boyd Rutherford, while Governor Hogan will be work on the coronavirus crisis.
“For Marylanders, the actions that I have announced here today will be disruptive to your everyday lives. And they may sound extreme, and they may sound frightening,” Governor Hogan said. “But they could be the difference in saving lives and helping keep people safe.”
By Kevin McManus