Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said last week that he wants students back in the classroom by March 1. Now, Maryland’s teachers’ union is pushing back on that start date, calling it arbitrary.
In a letter sent to Hogan and state Superintendent Karen Salmon, Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost expressed frustration with the March deadline.
“For the governor to come in and just put down an [arbitrary] date that school systems have to meet took away a lot of trust that our educators were starting to have in getting back to work,” Bost told WTOP.
The letter sent Tuesday says, “No one wants to get back to school safely and sustainably more than educators,” but teachers are “frustrated by the lackadaisical implementation of, and resources for, safety measures in our schools.”
Bost said more measures need to be in place for teachers to fully return to the classroom, such as more personal protective equipment for teachers, improved ventilation, contact tracing and more financial aid for reopening schools.
She also said that the decision to reopen should be decided on by local school boards.
In the same letter sent to Hogan, Bost said teachers have not been prioritized for the coronavirus vaccine.
She said many educators praised the decision to move teachers to Phase 1B of the vaccination roll out plan but was critical of the quick move to other groups and of the state’s distribution plan.
“Many educators are hearing at your press conferences that they can now get vaccines only to find no vaccine available to them in their counties,” the letter said.
Bost said teachers “really don’t feel like the governor cares about what’s happening to them. It is just like this extra group. Everybody else take the vaccine. Everybody else be safe, but it is like that inferred except for our educators.”
Hogan responded to the letter at a news conference Tuesday, saying that teachers don’t necessarily need to be vaccinated before they return to the classroom.
He also said that numerous health officials, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the state board of education and President Joe Biden all want to start getting kids back to school.
“No, it’s not contingent on waiting to get every teacher vaccinated. The metrics are good. Many schools have been open for five months without vaccines.
Every teacher doesn’t have to go back to school and people don’t have to put their kids back in school. But certain kids need an opportunity to get an education after a year of not getting one,” Hogan said.
In a newly released study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was little spread of the virus reported if students and staff socially distanced and wore masks.
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