Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan authorized every school jurisdiction in the state to reopen schools for in-person instruction during a Thursday news conference.
Maryland’s departments of health and education have concluded based on COVID-19 data in the state that it is safe to open schools with proper planning, Hogan said. The governor made clear that the exact plans of reopening are up to local school boards, but that those decisions must be based on statewide metrics and guidelines announced Thursday.
Maryland’s positivity rate has been under 5% since June 25 and under 4% since Aug. 8, currently sitting at 3.3%, according to statistics cited in the news conference. (RELATED: Trump Strikes Deal To Secure 150 Million COVID-19 Rapid Tests For Schools And Nursing Homes)
“To keep making progress, it is absolutely critical that we begin the process of getting our children safely and gradually back into the classrooms,” Hogan said. “I believe very strongly that every single child in Maryland deserves access to a world-class education regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in — and that is true now more than ever before.”
Two-thirds of the state’s school jurisdictions have provided plans for in-person instruction. Hogan sharply criticized the eight districts that refused to open.
“Perhaps it was easier for a local school board to simply say they do not want to open and to say that they have developed no plans to safely reopen or to bring any children back for any in-class instruction for the rest of the school year, but that is not acceptable,” he said. “It is not in line with our health metrics or our state policy, and it is not the right thing for our Maryland children. The hard work lies in developing the safe reopening plans, hybrid systems, and collaborate solutions to find ways to bring more kids back in for at least some in-person instruction.”
Hogan said schools are just as capable of opening in the fall as the government and private industries that successfully opened in the summer. The governor stated Maryland was able to keep 70% of its economy open during the height of the COVID-19 breakout and 98% open since June 19. (RELATED: Europe Is Reopening Schools, Even As COVID Cases Are Surging In Some Major European Countries)
When a reporter asked Hogan if the announcement was at all a response to the Republican National Convention, Hogan noted efforts from Democratic governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Phil Murphy of New Jersey to open all local school jurisdictions in their respective states.
“I couldn’t care less about those conventions … I think it’s a very bipartisan issue,” he said before ending the conference.