Nonpublic schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, are ordered to remain closed for in-person instruction through Oct. 1.
County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles announced the health directive to be effective immediately, citing the need to protect the safety of parents, students and teachers amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the order.
“At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers,” Gayles said in a statement.
“We have seen increases in transmission rates for COVID-19 in the State of Maryland, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia, particularly in younger age groups, and this step is necessary to protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents.”
The order includes, but is not limited to, all private pay schools, schools affiliated with religious institutions, or schools that are otherwise considered to be independent schools.
Gayles will reevaluate the order before Oct. 1 to determine if it should be extended, terminated or amended, a news release from the county said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan took to Twitter to voice his disapproval of the order.
I strongly disagree with Montgomery County’s decision to mandate the closure of private and parochial schools. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/4pESSu93Tj
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) August 1, 2020
The Archdiocese of Washington leadership released a statement Saturday, saying they are reviewing the directive and will evaluate to decide how best to proceed for students and the entire community.
“The Archdiocese of Washington continues to have the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and parents uppermost in mind and heart as we make our decisions regarding the reopening of our Catholic schools,” Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said.
“We will continue to strive to be both good citizens as well as to be faithful to our religious principles, pastoral mission and our obligations to our families.”
Montgomery County Public Schools will start the school year with virtual-only learning for the first semester, Superintendent Jack Smith announced last week.
Cases of COVID-19 in Maryland have been increasing in recent weeks. As of Friday, there are more than 88,000 cases, and 8,377 people 19-years-old and younger have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
In Montgomery County, there are 17,568 cases of COVID-19, and 750 people have died from it.
- Sign up for WTOP alerts
- Latest coronavirus test results in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Coronavirus FAQ: What you need to know
- Coronavirus resources: Get and give help in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Fall school plans for DC, Maryland, Virginia systems during coronavirus
- Fauci: Many unknowns on prevalence of coronavirus in kids, how much they spread it
- Prince George’s County sets 50-person limit on gatherings
- Alexandria public schools plan virtual-only classes