Amid continuing uncertainty about how the pandemic plays out, the Maryland state superintendent of schools raised the possibility of schools needing to rely on remote education this fall.
“I’m not sure that we are going to be doing school in the same way going forward,” Superintendent Karen Salmon told a panel of state lawmakers Wednesday, in an update about how educators are managing the unprecedented public health crisis.
Salmon mentioned that she and other state officials were taking their cues from epidemiologists, but emphasized the importance of distance learning.
“We’re not sure that this is going to be something that we’re not going to revisit in the fall or in the winter,” she said in a meeting by video conference. “So I am really focusing much of our resources on the expansion and the accountability wrapped around online learning and distance learning.”
Other state officials said Salmon had not meant to indicate when schools will open or what might happen next fall. They were focused on the importance of building up capacity for distance learning.
“To be clear, we have not made any new determinations related to the school calendar,” tweeted Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan (R). “At the same time, we are taking active steps now to prepare for potential future needs, and this includes a focus on enhancing distance and online learning.”
Schools in Maryland are closed through April 24, and Salmon said a decision would be announced before then about whether the closures would continue. The school year ends in mid-June.
On Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” Thursday, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said the state school superintendent is working with the 24 local superintendents on school closures and distance learning.
"We haven’t really made the final decision on schools,” Hogan said. “We’re going to wait and see over the next couple of weeks exactly where we are, how much we’re able to flatten this curve and what happens. ... We’d love to get them back open but we don’t want to do that if it’s not safe.”
Hogan has said that Maryland’s experience of the outbreak is about 10 days to two weeks behind states like New York and Louisiana, which may have have reached their peak and appear to be flattening out.
“Our numbers continue to rise fairly rapidly,” Hogan said. “We’re hoping to not nearly be as bad because we took actions several weeks earlier than they did."
Over the past month, Hogan has closed schools and many non-essential businesses, banned large gatherings and issued a stay-at-home order.
"We’re hoping that’s going to dampen some of these numbers, but we’re definitely at the beginning of the climb,” he said.