Maryland State Superintendent Sets Guardrails for Schools to Reopen
Governor Larry Hogan today provided an update to Marylanders on the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery, stressing the need for continued caution and vigilance. The governor was joined by Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon, who announced that MSDE will extend flexibility to local school systems to determine re-openings while instituting guardrails and protocols for in-person instruction.
Dr. Salmon announced that local school systems will have the flexibility to determine, in consultation with their local health officers, how they will open and which groups of students and staff will be able to re-enter school buildings. Depending on conditions in their locality, school systems may be more restrictive than the requirements outlined in the state’s recovery plan.
“We want to get our students back to school as soon as possible for in-person instruction, and this should be the driving goal and the basis for all of our decisions,” said Dr. Salmon. “However, the imminent safety and health of students and staff must, and always will be, the first priority.”
Within the framework of local control, MSDE will set a series of guardrails for school systems:
- All systems must follow CDC guidelines for schools, which stress the importance of handwashing, physical distancing, and cloth face coverings. Face coverings must be worn by all staff and students, particularly when physical distancing is not possible.
- All school systems must adhere to protocols instituted by state health officials for addressing an outbreak. Schools should provide written notification and next steps to all identified contacts. Schools should follow instructions from the local health department for all matters regarding quarantine, exclusion, and return to school for persons with a positive test for COVID-19 and those who had close contact.
- All school systems must meet a series of benchmarks before reopening:
- Incorporate equity as a component in the local recovery plan;
- Establish local education recovery stakeholder groups;
- Identify learning gaps and instructional placement of students;
- Follow and maintain curricular frameworks and Maryland College and Career Ready Standards;
- Adhere to components of IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and ADA;
- Adopt and follow health procedures outlined by the MSDE, MDH, and CDC, including cleaning and sanitization;
- Ensure safe transportation for all students;
- Develop a system for tracking attendance; and
- Follow the Maryland Public Secondary Sports Athletic Association guidance for interscholastic athletics and activities