Governor Larry Hogan held a press conference on January 21, 2021, concerning Maryland’s COVID-19 response and school reopening plans. He was joined by Maryland State Department of Education Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon.
Key Takeaways of the Press Conference
- Governor Hogan called on all county school systems to immediately make every effort to return to hybrid, in-person instruction by March 1, 2021, if not sooner.
- The State Board of Education has approved safe and effective reopening plans for all school systems and state health officials are providing additional science-based protocols for reopening.
- By law, the Governor cannot force county school boards to open schools. However, the Governor will do whatever he can by law to get children back into classrooms. He called on every leader in the state to join him and President Joseph Biden in their efforts to make this an immediate priority.
- Last August, all county school systems were authorized to reopen for in-school instruction.
- After consulting with professionals and looking at the data, there is a growing consensus that there is no public health reason for county school boards to keep students out of schools.
- Getting students back into schools is a top priority that has bipartisan support from leaders such as President Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and professionals from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- President Biden has signed an executive order supporting the safe reopening of schools.
- With continued vigilance, better treatments and vaccines being administered, Maryland’s COVID-19 health metrics are beginning to show indications of flattening.
- This month, Maryland’s positivity rate has dropped nearly 20%, Maryland’s case rate has dropped 26% and hospitalizations have declined 13%.
- Based on guidance by the country’s top health professionals, Maryland has prioritized COVID-19 vaccines for teachers and staff. The process is already underway.
- Governor Hogan provided additional direct state investment in his proposed budget to K-12 education. The State will also provide an additional $151 million toward targeted tutoring grants to support students at risk of falling behind on learning.
Governor Hogan’s Remarks
- The Governor said that every child in Maryland deserves a world-class education, and as Governor, one of his top priorities is the advancement of that goal.
- Governor Hogan said it is critical to get all students back into the classroom.
- “This really isn’t controversial. The science is clear. Nearly everyone wants to get our kids back into schools,” Governor Hogan said.
- Data from contact tracing and epidemiologists have indicated that school reopenings do not increase community spread or contribute to increased hospitalization rates.
- “Online learning has taken an unmistakable toll on students, families and educators. It is estimated that by the end of the school year, the cumulative learning loss can equate to at least five to as many as nine months, on average, with the losses disproportionately impacting students of color, low income and disadvantaged students even more. That is completely unacceptable,” Governor Hogan said.
- Governor Hogan said that the toll of keeping students home far exceeds the risk.
- The State will be providing schools with two million masks and 200,000 face shields in addition to other PPE such as hand sanitizer and gloves. Counties will also have unlimited coronavirus testing.
- Governor Hogan wanted to make it clear to the teacher’s union: “We fully expect teachers to make every effort to return to the classrooms.”
- Governor Hogan said, “We do not want to take such actions in Maryland, but if a school system does not immediately begin a good-faith effort to return to the classrooms, we will begin to explore every legal avenue at our disposal.”
- “Our children simply cannot afford anymore endless roadblocks … the time has come to get all of our kids back into the classrooms and to reopen our schools,” said the Governor.
Learn more about school reopening guidance here.
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