Local Md. School Systems To Decide How & When To Reopen Schools

State Superintendent says they must follow CDC guidelines to prevent COVID-19 spread.                                                                                                                                  


Annapolis, Md (KM) The State of Maryland is leaving it up to local school systems to decide on how and when to being classes in the fall. That announcement was made Wednesday by State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon. “Local systems will have the flexibility to determine,  in consultation with their local health departments,  how they will open, and which groups of students and staff will be able to re-enter the building,” she said.

Schools in Maryland have been closed since March to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Salmon said,  during the Governor’s news conference on Wednesday,  that school systems can go all virtual, or use a hybrid system  where students take part in classroom instruction, or learning on line. “Some systems have begun to lay a path to begin in the year all virtual; and plan to move forward with a hybrid approach,” she says. “Our job at the State Department {of Education} is help systems succeed and keep staff and students safe regardless of which path they choose.”

But any school building that reopens must follow CDC guidelines which means frequent handwashing, physical distancing and face coverings. . “Face coverings must be worn by all staff and students particularly, when physical distancing is not possible. We cannot stress this enough,” says Dr. Salmon.

In addition, Dr. Salmon says all systems must adhere to protocols from state health officials if there’s an outbreak at one of their schools. An outbreak is defined as at least one  laboratory case of COVID-19. “These protocols stress several elements including communication, and ensuring that a process is in place to notify the school community of a positive test, and to work with the local help department to activate contact tracing procedures,”she says.

And there’s also a procedure in case quarantining is necessary. “The school should follow instruction from the local health department for all matters concerning quarantine, exclusion and return to school for persons with a positive test for COVID-19, and those whom they’ve  had close contact,” says Dr. Salmon.

Frederick County is considering a hybrid plan, where students in each school would be divided up into cohorts. One cohort would attend school on Monday and Tuesday, and then take part in distance learning the remainder of the week. The second cohort would participate in distance learning Monday through Wednesday, and attend classes on Thursday and Friday. Schools would be closed on Wednesday for cleaning.

The Board of Education is expected to vote on which plan to use during their August 5th meeting.

All school systems in Maryland must submit their plans by AUgust 14th.



By Kevin McManus