Hogan still wants to see Maryland students back in classrooms

Gov. Larry Hogan remains enthusiastic about students across Maryland returning to classrooms, and though plans from school districts have been approved and state health metrics have been trending downward, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are still aiming for a return sometime next year.

“All 24 of our public school jurisdictions have now made the decision and submitted plans, which were approved yesterday by the Maryland State Department of Education, to at least begin bringing some students back safely into schools,” Hogan said at a news conference Thursday.

However, the decision still lies with each school district. The state required each district to submit its reopening plan by mid-August and they needed to respond to any clarifications the state needed a month later.

But the state’s approval of reopening plans does not affect when schools will reopen, said Gboyinde Onijala, of Montgomery County Public Schools. “We submitted our plan to the state on Aug. 14, which outlined our plan for a second-semester return,” Onijala said.

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Prince George’s County will continue to do distance learning through the end of January, but surveys are going out at the end of the year to determine parents’ preference, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said.

Touting Maryland’s downward trending COVID-19 health metrics, with a current 2.6% positivity rate, Hogan said the state has dropped to the “lowest lows among young people.”

In late August, the governor was urging reconsideration by the eight school districts who had no plans to return kids to in-person learning before January.

He seemed to double down on that sentiment Thursday, speaking to the ability to reopen by pointing to the state’s improving health metrics and the newly approved reopening plans.

“We have very detailed plans from the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland State Department of Education about what to do if a student becomes infected or if you have an outbreak in a classroom or in a school,” Hogan said. “And smart people at the local level are also very capable, and they’ve got plans about what to do as well.”

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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