MARYLAND — State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen B. Salmon is continuing to encourage local school systems to safely return students to schools for in-person learning.
State health metrics continue to remain among the lowest nationally and national research indicates that school community infection rates continue to stay well below those in the community at-large.
Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) issued guidance and metrics during the summer that provides step-by-step directions for response to confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus in schools.
Education officials have stated that virtual learning cannot fully replace in-person learning, especially for low-income, special-education students, as well as those vulnerable to abuse and although teachers want to be back in school, they also want to make sure there is a set plan statewide to ensure student and staff safety.
A survey of members of Maryland's teachers union shows 77 percent of those asked don't think schools can re-open safely in the next few months. These teachers want safety precautions taken before in-person learning can resume. The teacher's union represents more than 74,000 educators in Maryland.
The president for the state teacher's union stressed that they know that there will be cases. They just want transparency about it. According to her, it shouldn't be up to local school systems and health departments to determine what case information gets released to staff and parents.
To date, 19 school systems have opened schools for small group instruction or the start of hybrid instruction.
An estimate from McKinsey and Company suggests that, if schools don’t return to in-person schooling until January 2021, students could lose between three and 11 months of learning, depending on the quality of the remote learning.