Marylanders may only have to wait one more week until the stay-at-home order, put in place by Gov. Larry Hogan in March, is lifted. But students won’t be returning this school year.
Hogan announced Wednesday afternoon during a press conference that due to a downward trend in the number of hospitalizations from the previous week, and ICU numbers plateauing, the state may be able to enter Stage One of the recovery plan.
“If these trends continue into next week, we will be ready to lift the stay-at-home order and to begin stage one,” Hogan said. “That would mean the reopening of certain types of businesses and lower risk community, religious, and quality of life activities.”
State Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon announced during the same press conference that all Maryland Public Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.
“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.
Distance learning will continue and the Maryland State Department of Education will release “Maryland Together: Recovery Plan for Education,” a comprehensive plan for long-term recovery that will offer guidance to local school districts on various topics including how to begin reopening school buildings.
Salmon said it is unlikely at this point that the reopening of schools will be included in the first stage of the governor’s plan. However, different scenarios of reentry could be included in the second or third stages.
Salmon also touched on graduation for high school seniors. 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.
The governor did announce an ease in restrictions on some outdoor activities on Wednesday.
Beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday, the list of safe outdoor activities will be expanded to include golf, tennis, boating, fishing and camping. State parks will also be reopened, including all state beaches, for walking and exercise, and playgrounds.
Hogan warned though that it is important that residents continue to practice social distancing and follow public health guidance.
“Marylanders have made incredible sacrifices in recent weeks, and because of that, thousands of lives have been saved,” Hogan said. “However, it will remain critical ... that you continue to take actions to keep yourself and your fellow Marylanders safe.”