BALTIMORE — Governor Larry Hogan is authorizing all schools in the state to reopen, but some parents in Baltimore feel it’s still not safe for kids to return to the classroom.
During a news conference Thursday, Gov. Hogan said he believes students and teachers can safely return to classrooms for some in-person learning, pointing to the state’s low positivity rate and other key COVID-19 metrics.
Joe Kane, who has four kids in the Baltimore city school system, said he would not feel comfortable sending his kids to school and supports distance learning for at least the fall semester. He added the governor is setting up schools to fail.
“No firefighter sends an all clear with the house is still on fire,” he said. “We’ve seen across the state and across the country where colleges and universities who have started in-person have reversed course because of COVID outbreaks in those spaces.”
Kane is also the chair of the Parent and Community Advisory Board, which is a group that advises the district on issues such as reopening schools.
"Living in a city like Baltimore where we don’t have private transportation for our students. Our students will be taking mass transportation to get to their schools. Our students will be interacting with the general public on a daily basis and potentially carrying the disease across the city,” he said.
Angie Winder said she was “disappointed” after learning about the governor’s announcement. Winder has a kindergartner at Yorkwood Elementary. Like Kane, she said she wouldn’t feel comfortable sending her kid back to school either.
“I would rather see my child, you know being safe and being still alive and see her and hold her,” she said. “She’s not going to keep a mask on all day…I understand even if they reopen they’re trying to keep them in the classroom to eat their lunch. They’re not going to be moving as much [and] washing their hands every hour. I get all of that, but I think when it comes to the smaller ones I’m very much concerned.“
However, Winder understands why some parents feel kids need to go back to school. She said that’s why she does support a hybrid model.
“You’re going to have to offer that and I get it because there are some parents who can’t work from home,” she said.
As for Kane, whatever the decision the district makes down the line, he’s hoping parents are a part of the conversation.
“We need our leadership to be listening to families and parents here in Baltimore who are crying out that it is still not safe,” he said.
Gov. Hogan said the decision to reopen schools will still be left up to local school officials. In Baltimore, the current plan is to have virtual learning for the first four weeks. The school district will reconsider its plan in October.