After a night of tension between Charles County education officials and school leaders, the Maryland county’s school board voted to delay bringing Phase 2 students back to classrooms so teachers could be fully vaccinated.
Charles County schools will enter Phase 2 on March 22 — three weeks after Superintendent Kim Hill’s original proposal of March 1. She plans to bring teachers back to the classroom on Feb. 22.
Those who will return include special education students, English-language learners, career and technical education students, and children of staff members.
During an hours-along meeting, Hill pleaded with the board to do the right thing for children she says are suffering.
“We are tasked with making decisions that are best for children. What I hear is, you all are making decisions that are best for adults,” she told the board.
Board member Tajala Battle-Lockhart, who remains vocally opposed to bringing any children back to buildings this academic year, responded to Hill.
“Normally, this is all about the students, but we’re talking about lives and we don’t exempt teachers and staffs’ lives from this process,” she said.
Charles County is one of just two Maryland counties that does not have a plan to return all students to in-person learning.
Toward the end of the meeting, with much of the discussion surrounding vaccines, school safety and security director Jason Stoddard said science shows vaccines are just a tool and not a prerequisite to bringing students and teachers back.
He cited data supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. federal government and the county’s own superintendent of schools and doctors who presented information to the board.
Stoddard also pointed out many teachers are not taking advantage of signing up for vaccines. He said there were 2,400 spots for appointments ending on Thursday. As of Tuesday night, there were still hundreds of slots remaining.
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