Maryland public school closure extended four weeks

CAMBRIDGE, Md. — Superintendent of Maryland Public Schools Dr. Karen Salmon announced Wednesday morning that schools will remain closed for an additional four weeks, until at least April 24. The original shutdown, tentatively set to expire Friday, was declared in response to the spread of COVID-19.

“It is too early to say when schools will reopen,” Dr. Salmon said.

Speaking at Gov. Larry Hogan’s daily press briefing, she said the public school system is developing plans to provide continuity of learning during the time students are at home. The state’s local districts have submitted plans, she said, and will provide information to their communities.

As the number of cases climbs in Maryland — 70 more in the 24 hours before the 11 a.m. news conference, reaching a total of 423 — public schools plan to maintain the educational process.

“We will look at all kinds of creative solutions,” Dr. Salmon said, including summer school. She and her staff are determining baseline standards for the evolving situation, to ensure statewide equity in instruction.

Gov. Hogan addressed teachers, parents and students, saying, “I know how incredibly difficult and confusing this has been for you…It’s frustrating and challenging.” He said nothing, however, is more important than the health, well-being and education of the state’s children.

The four-week closure and further evaluation is “somewhat aspirational,” Gov. Hogan said. “We’re not going to send kids back unless it’s safe.”

In related issues, the governor said help received from the federal government has arrived, but is “nowhere near enough.” He acknowledged, though, that the state’s preparations are much more advanced than they were last week.

He said citizens were generally observing the prohibition on gatherings of 10 more people. In 500 calls recently, police in Maryland had to disperse only 14 groups, all of which did so without incident.

The state’s non-essential businesses were ordered closed on Monday, and have also cooperated. “To my knowledge, we’ve had very few problems with businesses that refused to close,” Gov. Hogan said.

Asked for estimates on when the situation would return to normal, he said, “You can’t put a time frame on saving people’s lives. We’re going to make decisions based on science and the facts.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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