MARYLAND — Friday, August 14 is the deadline for each school system in Maryland to submit their final plans for the fall semester of the 2020-2021 school year to the Maryland State Department of Education. All of the public schools in our area have decided on virtually learning.
Since the fall semester has been decided, school officials are now focusing on how to safely get back in the classroom. State and local leaders had a virtual meeting Thursday night. They are pushing for clear, statewide standards out in place by MSDE so all school districts are on the same page.
"If one county has one set of metrics, another county has another... there will be finger pointing. One group of parents will say you're bringing my children back when it's less safe. So if here was a common metric, I think everyone would feel much more secure and safe," said State Senator Paul Pinsky.
CEO Sonja Santelises, for Baltimore City Public Schools, added, "if those metrics, either those metrics or others were consistent across the state it would make also the communication to the public and to families much easier as well." She continued, "the ability for that information to be public, transparent and consistent, I think, actually also builds confidence or any re-opening or any stage of re-opening."
Santelises also stressed the need for expedited COVID tests for employees and for school secretaries to have desk shields. Something she added was not mentioned in the CDC guidelines.
Many school officials are concerned students will fall behind academically so they want to get back in the classroom as soon as possible, at least at some capacity.
"I think there is confusion among the general population, even among families with kids in schools that open or closed means everyone in or out," said State Senator Bill Ferguson.
Superintendents throughout the state have already been working with health officials from their local hospitals but these leaders want MSDE to work with the health department on these standards. Senator Pinsky said if the state doesn't move forward with these metrics then all 24 superintendents will work collectively with health officials to come up with their own.
WMAR-2 News reached out to MSDE to see their response to this push. As soon as we hear back, we'll be sure to update this story.