School districts in Maryland – particularly those in the state’s densely populated suburban counties outside D.C. – shut down for in-person learning when the novel coronavirus arrived in the state in March, 2020.
The governor said on Thursday that it is now time to reopen with haste.
"The time has come to get all of our kids back into the classrooms, and reopen our schools," Hogan said.
Hogan noted that early on in the pandemic when health officials had less information, it was understandable that schools felt compelled to close out of an abundance of caution.
The governor said on Thursday that if school districts fail to take "good-faith measures" to reopen, the state will pursue legal measures to ensure that schools reopen.
Both Hogan and state health officials say there is little evidence supporting the claim that schools cannot reopen because of medical concerns.
A number of districts in the state have reopened since the arrival of COVID-19.
Counties that were heavily hit by the coronavirus – such as Montgomery and Prince George’s counties – have been reluctant to reopen.
The state has provided updated guidance regarding safe reopening for schools.
On Thursday evening, Montgomery County Public Schools released the following statement:
"Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is committed to the safe return to in-person learning for all students. Today (Jan. 21), Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon provided an update on the state’s recovery efforts. During the press conference, they announced a change in approach to following specific health metrics for a safe return to in-person learning and demanded that school districts across the state reopen for in-person instruction by March 1. While we appreciate the commitment to provide additional resources to assist local districts with reopening efforts, we are deeply concerned by the abrupt change to the health metrics guidance set forth by the state given that we are in the height of the pandemic.
We know many in our community will have questions about what this announcement means for our students, staff and the MCPS recovery plan. Please allow us time to thoughtfully assess these important developments and continue to prepare for a successful start to the second semester. We will continue to collaborate closely with our state and county health officials and leaders. We know that they understand and share our sense of urgency in getting students back in buildings as soon as possible and as safely as possible. Our focus remains on the academic needs and the health and safety of our students and staff."
Montgomery County Education Association President Chris Lloyd on Governor Hogan’s recent comments on reopening schools:
"Getting students back in school is our main priority as well, but we need to take the health and safety of both educators and students into consideration first. We cannot in good conscience send folks back into school buildings without ensuring that all of the necessary safety protocols are in place, including adequate HVAC in buildings, PPE and social distancing requirements of students, and special consideration of ESOL, Special Education, and 12-month employees. As much as we are concerned about learning loss in the interim, we are more concerned about the loss of life."