BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Lots of students are going back to school Monday for the first time in almost a year, after state leaders pushed for districts to bring kids back in-person by March 1.
“I will do everything I can possible can do within the law to push to get all of Maryland’s children back into the classroom," said Gov. Larry Hogan.
Hogan said case studies have showed bringing students back does not increase community spread and it's important because e-learning has set many students back in their education by five-to-nine months.
Counties are all bringing students back to varying degrees and on different timelines.
In Baltimore City, the opportunity will be available for kindergarten through 2nd grade.
Families who opted in had to complete a consent form agreeing to wear a mask, social distance, and participate in daily health screenings and the new weekly asymptomatic testing.
For elementary schools, it will be pooled screenings where students and staff in a classroom pod use cotton swabs to self-administer the sample collection. Those will all be put into one tube, tested and the entire classroom pod will get one test result within 24 hours.
The goal is early detection and they will be offered for free.
"We know that in order for you to be free to think about re-engaging educationally in person, that we have a commitment as public servants and those who have taken and oath to serve, to make sure that we are making these available," said City Schools CEO Dr. Sonia Santelises.
However, some students, parents and staff feel the district isn’t ready for this next step of in person learning, holding a caravan earlier this month.
They want upgraded ventilation and said all staff should have the chance to be vaccinated before returning in-person.
As of last Wednesday, the City Schools chief of staff said 7,300 staff members have been invited to get vaccinated, 3,200 said they want to get vaccinated and over 2,000 have already received the first dose or have an appointment pending.
Grade 3-5 and 9 can return in person March 15.