In a unanimous vote, the Maryland State Board of Education approved a resolution Tuesday that requires all school systems to reopen five days a week for in-person learning beginning this fall.
While the resolution forces schools to return to full-time in-person instruction, the board president said their stance is subject to change, depending on how the pandemic progresses.
“The stakes are way too high for our students and society,” said state Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon before the vote.
Salmon presented a series of data points about the downside of virtual learning and hybrid instruction formats during the pandemic.
She noted that just over 40% of students are currently receiving in-person instruction.
“Research across the nation shows that the majority of our children have experienced disruptive learning as a result of a lack of in-person instruction over the past year,” said Salmon.
Aside from offering certain amendments to change the resolution’s language, at least two board members expressed concern about how the resolution was presented to them just a day before the vote and how the public didn’t get a chance to review it.
“I do believe things like this should’ve been put out to the public prior,” said member Rachel McCusker. “I know that not everyone agrees with me, but that is my position.”
But the board’s vice president, Jean Halle, disagreed.
“It’s the board’s position that we always allow public comment when there’s new policy involved,” said Halle. “This is not new policy. It’s reinstatement of existing policy.”
Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement in support of the board’s vote.
“The science supports getting our children back into school for in-person learning, and every student in Maryland should have that opportunity right now,” Hogan said.
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