Maryland

Maryland School Leaders Want More Guidance From State on Safe Reopening

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Some county school leaders in Maryland say they feel they aren’t getting enough guidance from the state on how to safely reopen schools.

They say the state needs to have clearer school safety guidelines.

“There have been no steps, statewide steps, to give us clarity in how to reopen,” State Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s County, said.

He was part of a hearing Wednesday with Maryland school superintendents.

“Local superintendents, in many cases, have been left on their own in many cases to figure out how to reopen, how to deal with the health issues, how to deal with the resource issue,” Pinsky said.

In August, the state of Maryland put out a set of guidelines for COVID-19 safety in schools, but it left some questions unanswered, for instance, saying the state “does not have specific guidance regarding class size.”

“We need to do things in a uniform and consistent way in testing and contact tracing and all of the outbreaks,” Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith said.

Some school leaders are calling for a statewide COVID-19 dashboard to track outbreaks in schools. Virginia announced its new dashboard Friday.

“Let’s say, there are seven children and three staff members at a school who test positive, I think parents have a right to know that,” Pinsky said.

Gov. Larry Hogan’s office sent a statement, saying “We work closely with school systems every day as they navigate through this challenging period. Unfortunately, state education officials weren't even invited to this so-called hearing to provide their perspective.”

Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have not set a specific date for reopening but say they want to prepare for when that day comes.

Prince George’s County Schools will hold a town hall meeting next week to give an update on the return to school plan.

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