Private and parochial schools in Maryland can choose when to reopen, the governor said Monday, after Montgomery County ordered all private schools to remain closed.
Gov. Larry Hogan issued an emergency order barring county officials from requiring private schools to close. Montgomery County’s order on Friday that the schools must stay closed was “overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer,” Hogan said a statement.
Public school districts were allowed to make their own decisions about whether to conduct in-person or online classes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines,” the governor said.
Counties still have the authority to close any facility that is deemed to be unsafe.
Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said late Friday that private schools in the county must stay closed for in-person instruction through at least Oct. 1.
“At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers,” he said in a statement.
He reiterated the same on Monday, saying the county is not seeing reductions in daily virus case numbers or community transmission, which guidelines require for safely reopening schools.
Hogan criticized the county’s order and the Archdiocese of Washington said they would evaluate how to proceed.
With public schools closed, some parents in the D.C. area who are looking for in-person instruction have turned to private schools instead.
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.