Annapolis, MD- At a Thursday afternoon press conference, Governor Larry Hogan discussed Maryland and its schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“I want to commend all the teachers, administrators, parents, and students who have really worked so hard to adapt, and successfully under very difficult and trying circumstances. Dr. Salmon and the State Board of Education have continued to consult with administrators, teachers, parents, health officials, and medical experts. And a growing consensus has emerged, both here in Maryland and across the country, and have found there is no public health reason for county school boards to keep students out of school.”
Hogan also noted that newly inaugurated President Joe Biden signed an executive order to have students back to in-school learning within 100 days.
The Governor urged all school boards to come up with a plan to restart hybrid learning no later than March 1, 2021. Over the summer, the State Board of Education gave all school districts guidelines to follow to allow students to return to in-school/hybrid learning. Just before Christmas, many Maryland counties began canceling hybrid learning and going back to distance learning.
State health officials are providing school systems with additional school reopening school guidance and educational design options based on scientific evidence, recent studies on the impact of school reopening on community transmission, and the effects of school closures on children and learning. State health officials recommend daily in-person learning for students with disabilities and special learning needs, phased daily in-person learning for elementary students, and hybrid learning for secondary students. Read the guidance.
Some of the new guidance is for reopening to students that need special guidance, career tech, elementary to have in-person or phased in hybrid learning. The guidance also updates, cleaning, masking, socially distance guidelines.
On Tuesday, January 20, 2021, Governor Hogan submitted his Fiscal Year 2022 Budget to the Maryland General Assembly. Governor Hogan’s budget provides a record $7.5 billion for K-12 education, above and beyond the legislature’s funding formulas. For the sixth consecutive year, Governor Hogan’s education budget exceeds statutory funding formulas to ensure that every jurisdiction receives more direct education aid than in the prior year. In FY 2022, $213.7 million is provided in hold-harmless grants to ensure every jurisdiction receives more direct aid than in FY 2021 regardless of fluctuations in enrollment. The FY 2022 budget includes $151 million to continue a successful tutoring program implemented in FY 2021 to assist students most at risk of learning loss.
Hogan noted that some jurisdictions outside of Maryland were penalizing teachers for not wanting to return. He stressed Maryland does not want to do that, but if school boards do not make a good-faith effort to reopen, the state will explore all legal options.
The State Government does not have the authority to order the school boards to reopen schools, as that rests with the duly elected Board of Education Members from each county. The state has offered incentives to school districts for providing plans for reopening and for actually reopening.
This is a developing story and we will bring more when released from the Governor’s Office.