BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Parents, students and teachers are expressing mixed reactions about the risk of in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This comes as Gov. Larry Hogan “urgently” called on local school systems to return to hybrid in-person learning by no later than March 1.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Calls On Schools To Move To Hybrid In-Person Learning By March 1
During a news conference Thursday in Annapolis, the governor said there was “no public health reason” to keep kids out of schools due to COVID-19, adding virtual learning could lead to significant learning losses, especially among students of color and those from low-income families.
“If the school systems do not immediately begin a good faith effort to return to classrooms, we will explore every legal avenue at our disposal,” the governor added.
But some parents and students are pushing back.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to open schools back up, especially without vaccinating all teachers and students,” Annie Bethell, a Baltimore City high school student, said.
Others are on the fence.
This comes as support staff and teachers in Maryland are eligible for vaccines, but the distribution has been slower than expected.
The Baltimore Teacher’s Union released a statement, saying the governor should “focus on accelerating the vaccine rollout… and getting city schools the resources they need to create healthy learning environments.”
“I would emphasize that school reopening decisions should not be based on the availability of vaccination or the level of vaccinations among staff,” Dr. Jinlene Chan, of the Maryland Department of Health, said.
During a virtual town hall, Baltimore City Public Schools discusses in-person learning for the second semester.
Officials tried to reassure the community they have a safe reopening plan.
“We’ve developed the systems, the protocols to safely mitigate the COVID factors to facilitate a return to school,” Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises said.
While state leaders are demanding for schools to return to hybrid in-person learning within two months, parents like Hugh Bethell fear when kids do go back to school it won’t be an easy transition.
“How do you really pick back up and get to where you were without a lot of remedial attention? That’s going to be the real challenge,” Bethell said.
During the Baltimore City Public Schools virtual town hall, school officials announced families will still be able to have an option for virtual learning if they choose.
For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.