Frederick County school board rescinds move to more classroom instruction

The school board in Frederick County, Maryland, has voted to rescind its plan to increase the amount of in-class instruction available to elementary students starting in May.

Thursday’s move comes after an avalanche of criticism was directed at board members from throughout the school system.

Unions representing administrators and teachers filed grievances, and in one case even cast a no-confidence vote in the board, which violated a Memorandum of Understanding reached between different stakeholders regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is my hope that we can take this and move it forward for the best interest of all of our stakeholders, and in particular our students,” said board member Sue Johnson.

Some board members cast votes in support of the change reluctantly.

“I’m doing it with the hope that what they said in their comments last night and in the emails that we’ve gotten is that they truly want to get as many kids back in as possible and that they’ll work starting today and tomorrow to figure out the best ways to do that,” said board member Brad Young.

“Kids need to be back in school and if that is what it takes and what it should be, they need to sit down, we need to start working on it today and find ways to get as many kids as possible back in school,” he added.

Young reiterated his desire to see kids back in classrooms 5 days per week, when the next school year begins in late August.

The board voted unanimously to begin engaging with educators and administrators about revising the Memorandum of Understanding, in order to allow more students back in the classroom now that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines about distance have changed in regard to elementary students.

“I think this is the motion that should have been made before,” said board vice president Karen Yoho.

“We do all have shared goals. Teachers want nothing more than to have students back in the class, and to do it safely and collaboratively is the way to go,” she said.

Frederick County’s Board of Education voted on April 14 to reduce the minimum distance required for elementary school students to three feet as part of an effort to bring more students back for in-class instruction.

By the start of May some students would have been allowed back in classrooms as many as four days per week.

But it took 8 minutes Thursday, and only because board members recited the Pledge of Allegiance first, to rescind all of that.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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