Maryland’s public schools will stay closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, State Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon said Wednesday in Annapolis.

Online and distance learning will continue for students, she said during an afternoon news conference at the State House with Gov. Larry Hogan.

Salmon said local school superintendents will make decisions about graduation ceremonies. But Salmon said she had reminded the local superintendents that although graduating students should be recognized for their accomplishments, the school districts must adhere to the governor’s executive orders.

Salmon displayed a reopening plan, “Maryland Together: Maryland Recovery Plan for Education” that she said school districts can use to plan for their eventual reopening. The plan is based on best practices, she said, but is voluntary. “Local school systems will have flexibility to adopt this model to fit their needs,” she said.

She said that when schools eventually reopen, that will likely occur in three stages.

During an April 8 virtual meeting of the state’s bipartisan Joint COVID-19 Response Legislative Workgroup, Salmon had expressed skepticism about students returning to their schools anytime soon — if ever.

“I’m not sure we are going to be doing school in the same way going forward,” she said at the time. “…I’m really focusing much of our resources on the expansion and accountability wrapped around online learning and distance learning.”

Salmon initially announced on March 12 that the state’s public schools would close for two weeks, effective March 16 due to concerns about the coronavirus. On March 25, Salmon said schools would not reopen before April 25. On April 17,  she said schools would not reopen before May 16.

Also on Wednesday, Baltimore County Public Schools disclosed its end-of-the-year plans for students.

  • Middle-school students will receive pass/fail grades.
  • High school students will be given pass/fail grades but will have the option of receiving letter grades.
  • The final day for seniors is May 29.

Bryan Renbaum contributed to this report.