The Frederick County Board of Education reaffirmed its intention to start the 2020-21 school year virtually, a day after Gov. Larry Hogan urged school systems to begin getting students back into classrooms.

While stressing that the health and safety of county students were its first priorities, the BOE released a statement Friday that the school year would begin virtually for the vast majority of its students. The first day of school in Frederick County is Monday as the state and country continue to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will continue with our virtual learning model plans, including the implementation of small group in-person instruction for targeted groups of students,” the statement said. “In partnership with our local health department and County Executive, we will continue to evaluate when it is safe for all students and staff members to return to in-person instruction. We remain committed to our decision to open the 2020-21 school year with the virtual model on August 31, 2020.”

The board announced in July that Frederick County’s first semester would be all virtual, except for small groups such as special education students and English Language students, who could struggle under a fully virtual format.

At a press conference Thursday, Hogan said that while the decision would ultimately be up to local school boards, all of the public schools in the state could begin to safely reopen.

“In order for us to keep moving forward and to keep making progress, it is absolutely critical that we begin the process of getting our children safely and gradually back into the classroom,” Hogan said. State schools Superintendent Karen Salmon called on county school boards to evaluate their mode of instruction at the end of the first quarter to see if in-person instruction can be expanded.

Frederick County Board of Education President Brad Young said Thursday that he felt Hogan’s announcement “was getting to the game a little bit late,” since school systems had already made their reopening plans several weeks ago.

He said it’s possible, but not probable that plans could change after the first quarter, but said health metrics would have to greatly improve for teachers, administrators and others to feel safe returning more students into schools.

“We said throughout the first semester... so unless something drastic were to happen, I couldn’t see it changing,” Young said.

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Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(14) comments

DickD

Many college have closed after two weeks. Opening schools now is a big mistake.

Dwasserba

"...Hogan said that while the decision would ultimately be up to local school boards, all of the public schools in the state could begin to safely reopen." What's changed to make him believe this???!

NewMarketParent

@Dwasserba

That is the trick to blameshift and absolve himself of any responsibility. It is exactly the opposite of leadership.

StoneMountain

Four Frederick County elementary schools are being used for YMCA childcare this fall. Why is it safe for children and YMCA staff to be in FCPS buildings but not children and FCPS staff? Daycares for essential workers have been open throughout the pandemic—did that result in waves of deaths? A child died from flu who attended an FCPS elementary school last year—did we shut down the school system? The decision to keep schools closed now is not logically consistent or science based.

Dwasserba

Schools and colleges opened briefly then closed. Towson U just went to all-virtual after being open less than a week. It's logical.

NewMarketParent

@StoneMountain

Exactly what science did you base your opinion on?

It isn't safe for YMCA staff to be in FCPS buildings, but they have decided that they are willing to accept risk and to make attempts to keep risk in check. They knew that knowing that there was always a possibility that an infection could hit and then they would be forced to close.

The problem is that you can't even get adults to wear masks and somehow we would expect children to do better? Where does that remotely make sense?

Risk completely changes when you can't socially distance as even with masks, the current science says that masks are only about in the high 80% effective. If you can overlap risk mitigation like that and social distancing, you can get even higher effectiveness.

Children cannot be expected to maintain that 80% effective rate because they are children and cannot even consistently wash their hands nor stay out of their noses. If you now, crowd those children into a school and reduce their ability to social distance, you will have effectively erased the additional mitigation of social distancing.

Again... tell me what you based your "science" on.

StoneMountain

For example

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/health-53932294

NewMarketParent

@StoneMountain

Really? That's your science?

That has been understood for a while. Do you know that children also are the biggest spreaders, right?

And, so who do you expect to interact with those little infectious children?

Furthermore... Where do you think those little infectious children go when school is out?

I'm trying to figure out if your point is because you really don't understand or if you are being disingenuous.

StoneMountain

Or this

https://www.npr.org/2020/06/24/882316641/what-parents-can-learn-from-child-care-centers-that-stayed-open-during-lockdowns

StoneMountain

Or this

https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/04/10/fluupdate041020

Final CDC flu report 2019-2020 flu season: 166 children died in U.S. from flu

https://www.google.com/amp/s/medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-covid-children.amp

Feb. 1-Aug. 1 2020, 44 children died in U.S. from coronavirus

Risks of death or serious complication for children are incredibly small. Students with health risks could avail themselves of the distance learning opportunities currently in place for children with medical issues. Adults should be capable of effectively using masks, social distancing, and hand washing.

Crab0721

I don't see anything changing between now and the end of the 1st Semester. I think that they should just leave the current plan in place. I know that this is hard for a lot of people but the health and safety of our children need to be our first priority. As of right now it is not safe for students or all of the staff members including bus drivers, custodians, lunch people and students families for the student to be inside of the school buildings at the same time

llrowse

Crab0721 - I couldn’t agree more. We’re seeing waves of schools opening and closing due to a spike in Covid among that specific population. Thankfully, we have some grownups in the room, who are willing to make a call based on available examples.

NewMarketParent

@llrowse

I am still stupefied that we even had to wait for examples for what seemed (at least to me) to be the obvious result. We basically have 2 choices. We can

1. Get the number down to the point where we can eradicate it and then start aggressively testing/contact tracing or

2. Get a vaccine or

3. Wait for an effective treatment.

I am willing to hear any other reasonable options.

NewMarketParent

@llrowse

Also as noted above. I can't count.

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