BALTIMORE — As the state mulls its reopening plan for schools, teachers, students and parents are concerned about returning kids to the classroom in the middle of a pandemic.
Joe Kane is a parent of four kids in the Baltimore city school system. Kane is also on a parent teacher advisory committee and a current member of a workgroup helping develop a school reopening plan.
Kane said he believes the state will choose between these three options.
"Either we are going to do a full reopening, a half and half reopening or we are going to go full distance learning," he said. "I think as parents, we are just trying to ensure we present the best option for our children in the fall."
In the U.S, coronavirus cases have surpassed three million in the U.S, along with more than 130,000 deaths. The virus has parents like Kane hesitant to send their kids back to school full time. As a member of the work group, he said it's an option he will not support.
Kane knows the threat is real after losing his grandmother to the virus.
“It doesn’t help anyone to have kids catch COVID to take it back home and to see how many people die," he said. "It's unfortunate children period have to be guinea pigs for what COVID return to schools looks like."
Some states have already made a decision on schools. In New York, the mayor announced students will return part-time in September with in-person learning two or three days a week. In Florida, where cases have been increasing, students will return full-time next month--a decision that has been controversial.
“It is really critical to get reopened, but we cannot do it in a way that jeopardizes the health and well being of our children and teachers," said Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore City Health Commissioner.
Dr. Wen said getting the virus under control first is vital in deciding if schools should reopen.
“That’s what we need to work towards and I wish that our federal government and all of our officials would recognize that," she said. "That’s the goal here. That's the single most important step to getting our schools reopened.”
She also said it's important to follow the CDC guidelines when crafting a plan to reopen.
As for Kane and other parents, the decision is a matter of life and death and something that should not be taken lightly.
“We have to be deliberate because people live’s are on the line, education is on the line, the future of the city is on the line if we don’t get this right," he said.
The decision on opening Maryland schools in the fall won't be made for at least another month.
Baltimore City Schools are holding virtual town halls to get input from parents, students and staff about the reopening plan. The first town hall is Thursday July 9 at 1 p.m. and can be viewed on the school's Facebook, Twitter and YouTube page. For more information about the town halls and other ways to give input about reopening city schools, click here.