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State school officials say online/distance learning may continue into the next school year

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Posted at 7:41 AM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 07:41:19-04

Maryland superintendent of schools Dr. Karen Salmon said on Wednesday that schools and parents need to prepare for possibly continuing online/distance learning in the 2020-2021 school year.

Salmon was part of a teleconference with state lawmakers and medical experts to talk about the coronavirus and its impact on Marylanders.

When asked if the state Department of Education is considering year-round learning to make up for lost time in the classroom during the spring semester and during the summer months, Salmon said she did not think the state will be doing school the same way going forward.

"We’re not sure this is something that we are not going to revisit in the fall or in the winter," she said. "So I am really focusing much of our resources on the expansion and accountability around online learning and distance learning."

Doctors and health experts are saying we may see another round of coronavirus in the fall and winter months. Salmon said her top priority is making sure every student has the resources to do online/distance learning successfully and for as long as needed.

"We have to ramp this up because this is the 21st century," Salmon said. "I believe any money that we get from the CARES Act goes to these locals that do not have these facilities for online learning and distance learning. They need to be prioritized."

Dr. Salmon also said the Maryland State Board of Education will be making a decision soon about extending the closure of schools. Right now, all public schools are closed until April 24.

She said they are listening closely to doctors and health experts about their projections for the virus.

"We didn’t want to just throw our hands up at this point because we wanted to see what would happen with our interventions with social distancing."

Salmon did not specify when a decision would be made. Governor Larry Hogan's Communications Director Mike Ricci said "We have not made any new determinations related to the school calendar. At the same time, we are taking active steps now to prepare for potential future needs, and this includes a focus on enhancing distance and online learning."

As for childcare for essential employees, Salmon said they have about 20,000 children being cared for in more than 3,600 designated child care facilities. She said if needed, they could accommodate up to 20,000 additional children.