MD Schools Reopening: Summer Instruction, Child Care, HS Sports

Elizabeth Janney

MARYLAND — Restrictions will be eased around school buildings, school sports and child care providers as the state continues with its reopening plan, Maryland's superintendent of schools said Wednesday.

After the governor announced he was easing restrictions on restaurants and malls, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon provided her plans for reopening educational programs and facilities.

All public schools in the state have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Summer School

For summer school programming, students and staff can return to buildings in small groups of 10 to 15, including staff, Salmon said.

Summer school programs should be focused on the most "deeply impacted" students, Salmon said, including those who have struggled with the shift to remote learning.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus after the first case of community transmission in Maryland, schools were closed in mid March. Since then, students and teachers have been directed to conduct remote learning, which consisted of online courses and/or mailed packets.

"Students with the most intense learning needs are the ones that have been hit hardest by the pandemic," Salmon said at a news conference Wednesday in Annapolis. "Without an intense focus on these students, they would be among the last to recover."

Here are the types of students she said should be the focus of summer programs:

  • Students without the ability to participate in long-distance learning
  • Younger students
  • Students who do not work well independently
  • Those who are the furthest behind academically

"Now is the time for school systems to engage their equity plans," Salmon said of the reopening of Maryland schools.

Nonpublic Special Education Schools

Nonpublic special education schools may reopen to serve students with disabilities, also in small groups of 10 to 15. These schools may want to use an alternative service delivery model with opportunities for face-to-face instruction, with health and safety protocols in place, she said.

"As one of the first programs to reopen following extended school closures, Maryland's nonpublic special education schools may develop a model for replication across the state during the recovery period," Salmon said.

Child Care Providers

Across the state as parents return to work, many will need child care.

"All child care providers may reopen as long as they follow the health department protocols listed on the MSDE website and also adhere to class size restrictions," Salmon said.

There will be a 15-person limit at child care centers, according to Salmon.

High School Sports Practices

"Outdoor high school sports may resume practice and training activities," Salmon said.

These must follow guidelines the governor previously announced with regard to sporting activities, in which groups must be small and limit contact.

Youth sports could resume May 29, with 10-person caps as well as health screenings required.

Summer Food Service Programs

The state has helped serve more than 13 million meals to children and community members since the beginning of the pandemic, Salmon said.

Summer food service programs will continue at the discretion of the jurisdiction.

Local school systems will take the lead, determining the types, times and locations of meals they will serve to students.

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This article originally appeared on the Across Maryland Patch