HOGAN SAYS ‘NO PUBLIC HEALTH’ REASON FOR SCHOOLS TO REMAIN SHUTTERED: Gov. Larry Hogan called on the state’s 24 school boards to make a concerted effort for students to be able to return to hybrid/in-person learning by March 1 at the latest, Bryan Renbaum reports for Maryland Reporter. With declining coronavirus positivity rates and vaccines becoming more readily available, the governor said it is time for Maryland’s students to return to their classrooms.
- “A growing consensus has emerged, both here in Maryland and across the country, that there is no public health reason for county school boards to keep students out of schools,” Hogan said at a news conference at St. John’s College in Annapolis on Thursday, reports the Sun’s Pamela Wood, Bryn Stole and Liz Bowie.
- Hogan said if necessary the state would explore every legal avenue it could to get students back in the classroom, and cited examples in other cities and states such as cutting pay or taking away teacher licenses, Donna St. George reports for the Post.
- And now 10 months into the pandemic, St. George and Valerie Strauss report for the Post that mental health is a simmering crisis for many of the nation’s schoolchildren.
- State schools Superintendent Karen Salmon said the impact of closed schools on students has been severe and that guidance plans are in place to reopen, David Collins and Tim Tooten report for WBALTV.
- The announcement and potential for punitive actions caught leaders of the Maryland State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, off-guard, Bryan Sears reports for The Daily Record.
- Salmon and Hogan have written to those union leaders asking them to cooperate in efforts to reopen schools, Ryan Dickstein reports for WMAR.
- Hogan’s arguments include that data from contact tracing and epidemiologists indicates that school re-openings do not increase COVID-19 community spread or contribute to increased hospitalization rates, the state education board approved safe and effective reopening plans for all 24 school systems, and state health officials are providing additional science-based protocols for in-person learning to resume, Teresa McMinn reports for the Cumberland Times-News.
SCHOOL SYSTEMS TIMELINES VARY BY JURISDICTION: Hogan’s deadline comes two weeks before Montgomery County schools had planned to resume in-person classes, Caitlynn Peetz reports for Bethesda Beat. The school system pushed back against the “abrupt” announcement and Montgomery County Del. Eric Luedtke responded to Hogan’s threats in a Twitter post. He wrote that he and other delegates are “looking at any and all options to stop the Governor from following through with these threats against Maryland teachers, including an emergency bill.”
- As of now, ten out of Maryland’s 24 local school systems are offering in-person learning in small groups, while Carroll County is the only district providing hybrid instruction to all students, Elizabeth Shwe reports for Maryland Matters. Hogan’s announcement comes one day after lawmakers met virtually to discuss how to combat learning loss for students this past year, possibly requiring programs like summer school or tutoring.
- Baltimore is moving forward with a plan to open elementary schools Feb. 16, but has installed either high-grade filters or semi-permanent air purifiers in only one in four buildings, Fern Shen and Mark Ruetter of Baltimore Brew report. City schools officials tweeted photos of 8,336 air purifiers arriving and those newly arrived portable purifiers will be placed in classrooms without upgraded filters or permanent air purifiers as a stop-gap measure to keep air circulating to reduce the potential spread of the deadly pathogen.
- A school leader in Washington County is optimistic students will be able to resume in person learning Feb. 16, Julie Greene and Richard Pollitt report for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail and the Salisbury Daily Times.
- Talbot County is also looking at mid-February to reimplement hybrid learning, Candice Spector writes for The Star Democrat.
REPORT: HARRIS TRIED TO BRING GUN ON FLOOR: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris was stopped from entering the House floor as he attempted to enter through a metal detector while carrying a gun, Matt Fuller reports for HuffPost. Harris, a Republican, left and returned in about 10 minutes without setting off the magnetometer.
- The United State Capitol Police have opened an investigation into the incident, Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters.
DROP IN REPUBLICAN VOTERS: More than 2,300 registered Republicans in Maryland changed their political affiliation in the week following the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a group of rioters in support of Republican President Donald Trump, Emily Opilo reports for the Sun.
MOURNING MIKE MILLER, CASKET ARRIVES TO LIE IN REPOSE: The casket of the nation’s longest-serving state Senate president, Thomas V. Mike Miller, has arrived at the Maryland State House, the Associated Press reports. Miller’s body arrived Thursday evening and will lie in repose under Maryland’s Capitol rotunda.
- Because of the coronavirus pandemic, only those invited will be able to pay respects in person to the titan of Maryland politics, Ovetta Wiggins reports for the Post. But still, hundreds are expected to, including former governors, elected officials and former staffers.
- The Baltimore Sun did a photo gallery.
CLIMATE ACTION STRATEGIES & ENVIRONMENTAL PRIORITIES: Past policy choices have affected Maryland’s environment and may have long-term climate impacts. Join the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) on January 25, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM, to hear from local legislators regarding potential policy solutions to meet clean energy and carbon reduction goals, during the first session of MCEC’s 2021 Policy Watch Series. Advance registration is required.
MENTAL HEALTH HELP FOR POLICE OFFICERS: Maryland police officers who are dealing with stressors — such as family issues, substance abuse or mass protests — will have access to confidential mental health aid under a proposed bill, Jacob Steinberg reports for the Capital News Service.
GUBERNATORIAL FUNDRAISING RACE BEGINS: Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) raised the most money last year among known contenders for governor, Erin Cox and Rachel Chason report for the Post.
COMMENT ABOUT DELEGATE APPEARANCE RAISE EYEBROWS: A comment that one delegate was “more attractive” than a past delegate in a video streamed public session has raised concerns, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun. During a bill to study whether Maryland should establish a state-run bank, Del. Rick Impallaria (R-Baltimore, Harford), made the comment about the sponsor of the bill, Del. Stephanie Smith. He has since called to apologize, and Smith said she was open to speaking with him about the “unfortunate” remark.
STATE-RUN BANK WOULD INCREASE ACCESS TO BANKING: Smith’s proposal for a state-run bank would ensure the state gets resources to umbanked and underbanked communities across Maryland, Holden Wilen reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.
BMORE RESTAURANTS OPEN IN LIMITED CAPACITY: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott’s decision this week to reopen dining in Baltimore at limited capacity came after a “listening” conference call with many restaurant owners in tears, Louis Krauss reports for Baltimore Brew.
HARDWARE WORKERS ASK FOR VACCINATION PRIORITY: A coalition of small independent hardware stores are asking to be included in the “essential workers” phase of COVID-19 vaccinations, Phase IC, along with grocery workers and residents over age 65, the staff of Eye on Annapolis writes.
MOSBY WANTS INVESTIGATION CONCLUDED: Six months after asking the inspector general to investigate her travel and personal businesses, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby wants the probe wrapped up, Tim Prudente reports for the Sun. After providing documents like travel receipts, more than 4,000 emails, bank statements and tax returns, Mosby’s office says a lack of resolution undermines public confidence in her office.