With the pandemic monster stirring once again in Maryland, the Frederick County school board made the only safe choice available to it by deciding to reopen this fall with remote instruction for almost all children.

Everyone wants the schools to fully reopen and have all the children back working with their teachers in the classroom. It is best for the children, who learn more in a classroom. It is best for teachers, most of whom love to work directly with children. It is best for parents, most of whom depend on schools to take care of their children while they work.

But it just isn’t practical at this point. We are nowhere near ready to return to pre-pandemic normal.

With uncertainty hanging over our heads, the school board made the least bad choice available — to go back to the flawed system of online instruction. It rejected a proposal for a blended school week, with half of the children attending school on Monday and Tuesday in person, and the other half attending Thursday and Friday. Wednesday was to be for deep cleaning.

Now, parents can start trying to plan for the fall knowing what they will need to contend with, even if they are not certain of how they will cope. Working from home is likely to be the most common plan for most people this fall, if it is possible. Businesses are going to have to plan for it.

The school board’s decision came on the same day that Gov. Larry Hogan ordered a pause in the reopening of businesses in the state. With new coronavirus cases rising in the state, Hogan, too, was faced with an unenviable choice: risk enabling the even wider spread of COVID-19 or risk further harm to the reeling economy.

Hogan also made the right choice, picking the safety of our citizens over short-term economic gain. As state after state has learned, reopening too quickly is a certain path to more economic devastation, not less.

Hogan announced an executive order that will require Marylanders to wear masks or face coverings outdoors when social distancing is not possible. He is trying again to get Marylanders to protect themselves and others from this highly communicable disease.

The governor said that contact tracing, in which infected people are interviewed about how they may have been exposed to the disease, showed that 44 percent had attended a family gathering, 23 percent had attended a house party and 21 percent attended an outdoor event. Social gatherings are very dangerous places, especially without face masks.

Those kinds of numbers show the ease of transmission of the disease in groups. Along with recent studies showing that children over the age of 10 are just as likely to spread the disease as adults, it is clear that opening schools would expose children, teachers, staff and families to danger.

We do commend the school board for recognizing that some children absolutely must have in-person instruction, even if there is some risk. The board instructed staff to come up with plans for occasional face-to-face instruction for students such as Special Education students and English Language (EL) students whose academic success might be seriously challenged by a lack of in-person instruction.

The school system staff must devote all their energy and attention to making the online learning experience as effective and efficient as possible. Colleges and universities — including the University of Maryland Global Campus — have been relying on distance learning for years. State and county educators should tap the college for its expertise.

The school board will revisit the decision at the end of the first semester. By then, we can only hope that circumstances have changed, that our knowledge about coping with the disease has increased, and that some form of in-person instruction might again be feasible.

For now, though, let’s play it safe. Good call, school board.

(18) comments

JohnSchaeffer1

"On-Line Learning" is basically giving the kids a year off from school. The only thing that keeps kids sitting in front of a computer is playing video games or logging into social media. Another year wasted.

micky

I guess "follow the science" doesn't matter when it comes to schools. Dr. Redfield of the CDC says opening schools is best for the well being of the students. Look it up !!

MD1756

What may be best for the students is not necessarily what is best for the rest of us.

NewMarketParent

@micky

Let me say it one more time for the cheap seats.

The head of the CDC is a political appointee. He has shown that he will parrot whatever the administration says he should say.

I will believe the science and scientists, not a political appointee of a federal agency whose job requires hims to refute data from his own agency.

girlpolitic

[To Editorial Board]

I would have thought you would have supported opening. When the pandemic started in March the position of FNP was keep the public informed.

You said on Mar 12, 2020 "News-Post opens site to the public"

To help keep the community informed during the corona virus crisis, The Frederick News-Post has temporarily opened free public access to all articles on FrederickNewsPost.com.

The fact that millions of Americans are still unemployed, social activities have been curtailed [except protesting], whole businesses are still in shutdown, most daycare centers are closed. movie theaters remain closed, travel restrictions between some states exist, most organized outdoor sports and entertainment are postponed, as reported yesterday U.S. energy consumption plummeted to its lowest level in more than 30 years because no one is traveling, It has been reported that as many as 40% of the businesses shutdown will never reopen. Not one jurisdiction the called for a "State of Emergency" has rescinded that declaration. .Hell, even the City of Frederick has declared a Public Health Emergency because it has determined most citizens are racists. A Frederick County Council woman stated last week, during a public forum, that she is a racist.

Even after reflecting on the above conditions your action helped me gain perspective.

Surely this crisis is over; YOUR PAYWALL IS UP.

Those parents, that are not able to afford a subscription during this time of fiscal distress, don't really need information about BOE's decision regarding virtual school for the upcoming school year?

PurplePickles

GirlPolitic has a very valid point FNP what are you planning on doing about it?

PurplePickles

If we had done what needed to be done way way back in March the children would not need to still be safe as home.

How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air”

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/07/how-jared-kushners-secret-testing-plan-went-poof-into-thin-air

Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

Lemmy

It's always "more money" . . . .

DickD

A good decision to keep the children safe. Education is important but does not outweigh their lives.

Lemmy

Will teachers be receiving a pay cut since they will not be working full time?

DickD

How do you know the amount of time they will have to spend. They are likely going to spend more time preparing and time on line addressing students.

Lemmy

In speaking with teachers in both Frederick and Montgomery Counties, most of their days are far from full.

PurplePickles

I think the teachers deserve a raise because they are being asked to do a lot more than usual and it's not like we pay our teachers what they actually deserve so to demand their pay get cut.....what are our children worth to you Lemmy? Remember you get what you pay for.

MD1756

Maybe because it is summer break? If teachers are going to be engaged in distance learning they will need to develop new skills and adapt their lesson plans. They should be working full time when their jobs start back up.

NewMarketParent

@Lemmy

Sources cited?

I have been working remotely (not a teacher) and I am routinely putting in 50+ hours a week at work. What ends up happening often is commute time is absorbed into work time as you end up doing more. I can imagine virtual learning planning will take even more time as you have to double check instructions because its not like this isn't brand freakin' new.

Lemmy

So your experience offers no insight to the extra time teachers have on their hands. My sources are three people - two of which are teachers in Frederick County and one who is a teacher in Montgomery County. Sit and color quietly.

MD1756

Maybe you just know some lazy people, and 3 teachers out of two LEAs hardly makes a statistically valid sample. No need to insult others providing comments.

Just Wondering

Lemmy, it you friends are teachers and "sit and color quietly", they are not doing their job. I know several teachers as well and they say the workload was quite heavy with online learning because of the amount of time spent looking for resources for learning and creating instructions and lessons with clarity. Your teacher friends should be ashamed. Maybe they don't teach a core class such as Math, Science, or English.

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