KIRWAN FUNDING IN LIMBO: Maryland’s sweeping schools reform effort, known as Kirwan, is in limbo despite the best efforts of House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson to shore it up before the Covid-19 crisis took hold. But the tax package to pay for the biggest pieces of the reforms was based on assumptions that economic activity would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue. And the pandemic has changed all that, Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox report for the Post.
SCHOOLS SHUT FOR REST OF ACADEMIC YEAR: Regina Holmes of MarylandReporter writes that 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.
- “I am convinced this is the appropriate decision in order to continue to protect the health and safety of our students, educators, staff and all members of school communities throughout Maryland,” Salmon said. Pamela Wood, Lillian Reed and Liz Bowie report the story for the Baltimore Sun.
- Decisions regarding commencement ceremonies will be made by local superintendents and school boards, Salmon said, but reiterated that school districts must follow and remain in compliance with the governor’s executive orders regardless of how and when they decide to honor the class of 2020, Katryna Perera of the Frederick News-Post reports.
- What comes next for school leaders is carrying out plans they already put in place. They will make decisions on grading and graduations, and on how to catch kids up after some have missed months of work. Liz Bowie of the Sun reports that school leaders said they now can offer teachers, parents and students guidance about what will return to normal when schools reopen — but also prepare them for ways schools may remain changed.
- The closures affect more than 166,000 students in 208 schools in Montgomery County, and nearly 900,000 students statewide, Caitlynn Peetz of Bethesda Beat reports.
WHAT SCHOOLS MIGHT LOOK LIKE: Protective films around bus drivers, temperature checks at schoolhouse doors, playgrounds marked with social distancing markers. Those are just a few examples of what might become the “new normal” at Maryland public schools, if they’re reopened next fall, writes Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters.
SOME OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES CAN RESUME: The Washington Post’s Erin Cox, Fenit Nirappil, Laura Vozzella and John Woodrow Cox report that Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that the state would slowly begin to ease his stay-at-home order, granting permission for certain outdoor activities and allowing doctors to schedule some elective surgeries.
- After seven days of good trends with hospitalizations and intensive care unit numbers, Hogan decided to relax some of his orders, allowing medical procedures and opening up some recreational activities, like golfing and state beaches for exercise, Heather Mongilio of the Frederick News-Post reports.
- Teresa McMinn of the Cumberland Times-News writes that Hogan said that even more encouraging is that intensive care unit numbers have been basically flat and level at a plateau for eight straight days.
- Maryland’s stay-at-home order could be lifted as early as next week, Hogan said Wednesday while also announcing an immediate easing of restrictions on some low-risk activities and the closure of schools for the remainder of the school year, Jessica Iannetta of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.
- The governor amended his stay-at-home order to allow for individual and small group sports — such as golfing and tennis, outdoor fitness instruction, recreational fishing and hunting, recreational boating and horseback riding — starting Thursday, Pamela Wood, Jeff Barker and Bill Wagner of the Sun report.
- “I realize that these are only small steps and that they may be of little comfort to those who are out of work and who are struggling financially,” Hogan said in a story reported by Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
- Dr. David Marcozzi, the Coronavirus Recovery Team’s COVID-19 incident commander. reminded Marylanders to maintain physical distance, practice good hand hygiene and congregate in small groups both indoors and outdoors to protect those at high risk for COVID-19, Regina Holmes writes in MarylandReporter.
CLEARING JOBLESS CLAIM BACKLOG: Maryland’s labor secretary told a panel of lawmakers Wednesday that the state is working as quickly as possible to clear a backlog of unpaid unemployment insurance claims filed over the past six weeks, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
FEDS LOOK INTO FAILED PPE SUPPLIER: Federal authorities have launched an investigation into a politically connected company that the state of Maryland says failed to supply millions of dollars worth of masks and ventilators, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood of the Sun report.
- Prosecutors are focused on at least two contracts that the firm signed for medical masks and other equipment with Maryland and California, Tom Hamburger and Juliet Eilperin report for the Post. Both states ultimately canceled those contracts.
STATE CRITICIZED FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE: Even as Maryland inches closer to reopening its economy and is easing restrictions on recreational activities, the state government is coming under increasing — and occasionally partisan — criticism for some of its responses to COVID-19, Josh Kurtz and Bruce DePuyt report for Maryland Matters.
MOST FATAL COVID-19 CASES WERE IN LONG-TERM CARE: Nearly three-fifths of Marylanders killed by the coronavirus are residents of long-term care facilities, according to the state’s update of nursing home data Wednesday for the first time since last week, Nathan Ruiz and Colin Campbell report for the Sun.
NURSING HOME WORKERS CITE SHORTAGES: Former and current employees at Sagepoint in La Plata and six other Maryland nursing homes say the virus spread rapidly as their facilities struggled with shortages of staff, testing and personal protective equipment, report Rebecca Tan and Rachel Chason for the Post.
B’MORE MAYOR DEFENDS HANDLING OF CRISIS: Baltimore Mayor Jack Young (D) defended the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic after mayoral candidate Mary Miller said in an article in MarylandReporter that Young and his administration did not act quick enough to try and contain the spread of the virus, Bryan Renbaum writes in MarylandReporter.
- After the coronavirus pandemic dealt Baltimore an economic body blow, city officials on Wednesday presented a revised budget proposal that would eliminate hundreds of vacant positions, close two fire companies and reorganize the police department’s specialized units, Talia Richman of the Sun reports
DEATH & FUNERALS CHANGE DURING PANDEMIC: Jon Kelvey of the Carroll County Times writes about how responses to fatal illness, goodbyes and funerals have changed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
RODRICKS: THE GREAT UNFAIRNESS: In his column for the Sun, Dan Rodricks writes about the slow reopening of Maryland, how one Western Maryland businesswoman is urging Gov. Hogan to reopen campgrounds like hers and how the pandemic fallout is unfair to everyone.
TRUMP WANTS LOCAL GOPer TO ‘CEASE & DESIST:’ President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign on Wednesday issued a cease and desist letter to Maryland Republican Party third vice-chairman Matthew Adams over what the campaign describes as “unauthorized activities in the President’s name,” according to Ryan Miner in his A Miner Detail blog.
RBG LEAVES HOPKINS: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was discharged from Johns Hopkins Hospital on Wednesday after staying one night for a gallbladder problem, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun reports.