BALTIMORE — The long strange coronavirus summer is coming to an end. Parents in Baltimore County seem split on how their kids should go back to school.
Julie Potter, the parent of a high school student in Baltimore County, hated online learning last year but prefers it to risking her child’s health.
“I don’t want my son to do online this year but it isn’t safe to just go back to school and be in person, and he feels that too,” said Potter.
Sean Samuels's son is a junior in Baltimore County. He wants him back in class with safety measures in place.
“Kids learn better in an environment where other kids are,” said Samuels. “I would like it open with the restrictions. That’s what I would prefer.”
Governor Larry Hogan wants every school in the state to reopen with safety measures in place.
The first day for many schools is a little over a week away.
It’s tough to weigh something as scary as your child getting coronavirus versus them getting a quality education.
The Governor's announcement is a push to districts, but not a demand. He said he doesn’t have that power.
The state teachers union president called it “political theater” that undermines the efforts of teachers and policy makers across the state.
Thursday Hogan advised every school district to reopen.
“The hard work lies in developing the safe reopening plans; hybrid systems and collaborative solutions to find ways to bring kids back in for at least some in person instruction,” said Hogan.
He pointed to a 5% positivity line over 7 days.
If you’re under 5% fully open, over 5% create a hybrid system.
He also addressed the need for in-person learning for at-risk and special needs children.
The Governor took a shot at 8 school districts for not releasing any in-person instruction plan including Baltimore and Harford County.
“Perhaps it was easier for a local school board to simply say they don’t want to open than to say they have developed no plans to safely reopen,” said Hogan.
Each district will still have the power to decide how to open.
Cheryl Bost, the President of the State Educators Association said the governor is throwing the school communities that worked hard on plans under the bus.
“What I didn’t hear from the Governor and Superintendent today was the money that they are going to help with providing devices and connectivity,” said Bost. “The money they are going to help with ventilation systems, PPE, all those other things. We’re very disappointed that this wasn’t done earlier or had conversations earlier. Now it sounds like he wants to strong-arm the locals into doing what he wants them to do.”
The Governor pointed to the $345 million in federal CARES Act funding for virtual learning.
Dr. Karen Salmon, the State Superintendent of Public Schools, said next week the state board will discuss her recommendation for a minimum number of hours for real time face-to-face instruction during virtual learning.
“Three and a half hours daily of that time should be guided synchronously by a teacher,” Salmon said. “Setting this standard is the only way to ensure an equitable education for all children across our state.”
The state has secured $10 million in incentives for districts that reopen by the end of the first quarter.
The first day of school for most school districts is September 8.