JURISDICTIONS GIVEN FLEXIBILITY ON REOPENING SCHOOLS: Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said on Wednesday that local jurisdictions will be given flexibility in deciding how they wish to proceed for the upcoming school year, Bryan Renbaum reports in MarylandReporter.com.
- Salmon said that school systems can choose to implement a more restrictive recovery plan than the state’s, but the driving goal should be returning students to in-person instruction, Lillian Reed and Jeff Barker of the Sun report.
- To help with the digital divide among students with limited to no technology, the state will provide $100 million for Wi-Fi access and devices. Another $100 million will go toward tutoring to help students who have fallen behind since schools closed for in-person instruction March 16, William Ford reports for the Washington Informer.
- Nine school systems — mostly in metropolitan areas of the state — have already made the decision to begin the year with students learning virtually. The balance are still considering their options before finalizing plans that must be completed and submitted to the state by Aug. 14, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.
SCHOOL REOPENING PLANS: McKenna Oxenden of the Sun updates how various jurisdictions will approach school reopening in the fall.
- Online learning for Anne Arundel County public schools this fall will look different from the way it did when schools first closed in the spring — with four days of real-time online classes with a fifth set aside for digital small groups and one-on-one teaching, Naomi Harris of the Capital Gazette reports. The school system announced Monday that its first semester would be entirely online.
- Frederick County Public Schools has yet to make a decision on how it will reopen for the fall semester, but surrounding school districts in Washington and Montgomery counties have already decided to start the school year fully online, Katryna Perera of the Frederick News-Post reports.
- Caitlynn Peetz of Bethesda Beat writes that Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith on Wednesday said the district is committed to keeping part-time and building services workers employed through the fall, but added, “How we do that, at this point, I don’t know.”
OPINION: SCIENCE SAYS TO REOPEN SCHOOLS: In a column for the Capital Gazette, Herb McMillan opines, “It fascinates me that (Anne Arundel) schools Superintendent George Arlotto has suggested it’s “unsafe” for students and teachers to return to classrooms in Anne Arundel County. The scientific data indicates otherwise. So does common sense.”
USM MANDATES MASKS: Still faced with the threat of the coronavirus, some Maryland universities are sticking with their decision to have a mix of in-person learning and online classes this fall. But now they are setting up additional mandatory guidelines, writes Elizabeth Shwe for Maryland Matters. All students must wear face masks on campuses in all of the University System of Maryland’s 12 institutions.
TEST RESULTS DELAY CAUSES PROBLEMS: Though “high priority” patients — such as those in the hospital or showing severe symptoms — qualify for expedited testing, much of the population must wait several days for their COVID-19 results, a timeframe that experts say does not help mitigate the spread of the virus. In Maryland, delays as long as five to seven days have become routine, which officials attribute to overwhelming demand at large, commercial labs, write Hallie Miller and Sanya Kamidi for the Sun.
HOGAN DEFENDS ELECTIONS PLAN: Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday sharply defended his plan to hold a traditional general election — with voting at about 1,600 polling places — during a pandemic, saying the goal is to offer Marylanders the flexibility to vote in person or by mail, Jeff Barker reports in the Sun.
- Brandon Weigel of Baltimore Fishbowl writes that Hogan said mailing the applications and offering other options “allow this election to be an ‘all of the above’ election with the most choices possible.” In compliance with state law, Maryland will have eight days of early voting and polling places across the state will be open for Election Day on Nov. 3, Hogan said.
PROTESTERS SEEKS ELECTIONS PLAN CHANGES: Meanwhile, advocates and lawmakers rallied in Annapolis demanding that Hogan reverse his decision to send out mass vote-by-mail applications and open polling centers for the November election, Bennett Leckrone reports in Maryland Matters.
ELECTIONS VOLUNTEERS WORRY ABOUT SAFETY: Democrats in particular are critical of Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan for in-person voting, with many questioning how it will be possible to safely staff hundreds of polling places during a pandemic in which people are still urged to stay home, Talia Richman of the Sun reports. The election judges who operate polling places tend to be older, making them at higher risk for devastating coronavirus complications.
PANEL SEEKS TO TRANSFORM JUSTICE SYSTEM: After completing their first six months of work, advocates from the People’s Commission to Decriminalize Maryland on Wednesday announced their intention to combat state and local laws that target marginalized populations. Their eyes are locked on generating policy that’s inclusive for every stakeholder in the criminal justice system, Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters reports.
SENATE GOPers URGE HOGAN TO KEEP REOPENING PLAN: The Maryland Senate Republican Caucus has asked Gov. Larry Hogan to resist calls to roll back the state’s reopening plan, which last month eased restrictions on gatherings and indoor activities such as eating in restaurants and visiting malls and recreational establishments, Kevin Kinnally writes in Conduit Street.
HOGAN: TRUMP WRONG ON STATES’ COVID NEED: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) flatly rejected President Trump’s claim that the states have everything they need to confront the COVID-19 pandemic head-on, reports Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. “It’s obviously not the case,” Hogan told reporters at a State House news conference Wednesday. “There are still things that we really need.”
DR. BIRX WARNS B’MORE, OTHERS ABOUT RISE IN COVID: Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned state and local leaders in a private phone call Wednesday that 11 major cities – including Baltimore – are seeing increases in the percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19 and should take “aggressive” steps to mitigate their outbreaks, Liz Essley Whyte and Alex Ellerbeck report for the Center for Public Integrity.
B’MORE REVERSES DINING OPTION: Baltimore will halt indoor dining starting Friday evening and require all residents over 2 years old to wear masks in public places, after coronavirus cases doubled in the city in the past month, Jessica Iannetta of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.
- Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s order comes a month after he allowed bars and restaurants to serve patrons indoors, Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew reports.
PG JOBS SPARED WITH PPP: Jack Hogan of the Capital Gazette reports that more than 1,000 Bowie businesses received funding as part of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. That data states those loans may have helped Bowie businesses retain over 9,000 jobs and 120,000 jobs in Prince George’s County. It’s a boost amid a pandemic that has infected over 21,000 and killed over 700 in Prince George’s County, according to the county’s COVID19 Dashboard. Nearly 1,300 have been infected in Bowie.