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Schools to remain closed through at least May 15, Hogan provides other COVID-19 updates

Posted at 2:48 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 23:15:41-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md — Maryland Public Schools will be closed until at least May 15, State Superintendent Karen Salmon said on Friday.

While unsure of if and when schools will re-open again this academic year, Salmon says the delay will allow time to consider all options.

“With regards to the remainder of the school year and the summer, we will use this time to examine every option, and continue to develop a long-term plan for recovery,” said Salmon.

In the meantime, Salmon says schools are planning for more digital learning and to for ways to make up any lost school time.

“After speaking with local superintendents this past week, school systems have also started to develop plans for additional digital learning and the recovery of any lost instructional time in the form of expanding summer school programs.”

During school closures, Salmon said child care services will continue to be provided to essential personnel at more than 3,700 State-funded sites across Maryland.

Over 25,000 children currently enrolled, and the State has the capacity to serve an additional 20,000, Salmon says.

Following the announcement, Baltimore County elementary school teacher and Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) President Cheryl Bost issued the following statement.

“This is the right decision for the safety and health of our students, educators, and state. Educators will continue to do our best for our students as together we navigate the challenges of crisis distance learning. We know that this type of learning is no substitute for in-person learning, and we will need to be thoughtful and serious about how we help students recover from this crisis. Recent weeks have magnified existing inequities—whether of technology access, food security, or otherwise—that our students face every day and that challenge their ability to succeed in school. We must come together to address these issues over the short- and long-term. Everyone’s safety is paramount, but we remain hopeful that educators and students will be able to spend time together again at their schools before this school year is over.”

During this time, Baltimore City Schools students will continue with distance-based learning curriculum. Students may call their Homework Hotline for assistance at 443-984-2001, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.- 6 p.m.

Learning packets and grab-and-go meals will be available at our 18 emergency food sites from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Governor Larry Hogan also provided updates on Friday on the state's response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Hogan started off by sharing a bit of good news, saying Maryland saw a 22% rise in recoveries this week.

“Our case numbers are still growing each day and the number of deaths continues to increase, but we are beginning to see some encouraging signs that allow us to lay the groundwork to reopen,” said Hogan.

The governor discussed a layoff aversion fund and said $8 million has been provided to 410 small businesses, which will go toward saving the jobs of more than 9,000 workers.

So far, the Maryland Commerce Department has approved $3.8 billion in loans to assist nearly 12,000 Maryland businesses, according to Hogan.

As one part of his four phase recovery plan, Hogan announced grants to three Maryland small businesses to manufacture personal protection equipment. Those company's are DVF Corporation out of Washington County, to make parts for respirators, Baltimore based Awesome Ninja Labs to make face shields, and NRL & Associates of Queen Anne’s County to ramp up ventilator production.

In response to citizen complaints about delays in filing for benefits over the phone and online, Maryland's Department of Labor is launching what Hogan called a "one-stop shop" online application for all kinds of workers filing various claims.

The Governor said the state is addressing the demand for food bank donations, by investing $4 million to the Maryland and the Capital Area Food Banks, which will be matched by local jurisdictions.

Maryland's Department of Human Services is also working to implement an online SNAP pilot program, which would allow recipients to purchase food online and have them delivered at no cost. Company's such as Shop-Rite and Amazon have already waived delivery fees for the program.

Finally, the Governor reminded citizens that beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday, all workers and customers must wear face coverings in all stores and aboard all transit.