Frederick County Councilman Phil Dacey is calling on the Board of Education to issue a report outlining potential school reopening plans to the county by Dec. 10.
Dacey, a Republican, made that request in a resolution that still needs to be discussed by his colleagues, but he said on Monday that waiting too long before reopening is having a negative impact on students, especially those in younger grades.
In early October, the Board of Education voted, in a split decision, against motions that would have led to possible votes on whether to reopen schools under a hybrid model, based on proposals from Superintendent Terry Alban and staff.
Dacey knows his proposed resolution is not legally binding, but hopes it pushes current board members to have discussions about reopening. He added he would be supportive of some sort of phased-in approach for students coming back.
"For first- and second-graders, it’s been since March that they’ve been in a classroom setting … it’s virtually impossible to do virtual learning for some of those population segments," Dacey said. "Even for my kids, who are [in] sixth and fourth grade, it’s tough. They’re doing well, but they're not … getting the same education as my neighbors' kids, who are going to private schools."
The Board of Education is scheduled to discuss, and possibly vote, on reopening plans at its meeting Wednesday. Board President Brad Young said he appreciated Dacey's intent, but board members would make their decision as an independent body.
He still needed to review the resolution, as does Board Vice President Jay Mason. Young said he still supported partially reopening schools, a position he held roughly a month ago when the board voted.
"I certainly think he has the right to be interested," Young said. "He'll hear where the members are on Wednesday. He doesn’t need to get a report … that will be the report he needs."
Mason wrote in an email he and his colleagues are waiting to hear from Frederick County Public Schools staff on Wednesday about "clarifying questions" about the reopening plans.
Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) said the earliest the County Council would discuss Dacey's resolution is at its meeting on Nov. 17.
Keegan-Ayer said reopening decisions are up to the Board of Education, not the County Council. She said she was concerned about rising coronavirus metrics, especially as school systems statewide have started some reopening processes.
The County Council, County Executive Jan Gardner (D) and Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, the county's health officer, are meeting as the county's Board of Health Thursday where council members will be briefed on the coronavirus in Frederick County.
"I think he's getting a little ahead of himself," Keegan-Ayer said. "It’s not our role to push [the Board of Education], it’s their role to determine when the timing is correct to determine the schools opening."
"This would be no different than trying to tell the sheriff how to run his division, how to tell the state’s attorney how to run his division … [but] he can certainly express his concerns," Keegan-Ayer added about Dacey's request.