Maryland school systems will have flexibility as they determine the best way to start the academic year, and whether their buildings will open.
State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon says the driving goal should be getting students back to school for in-person learning as soon as possible, but safety and health of students and staff are always the first priority. Maryland school systems will be guided by benchmarks and CDC guidelines as they decide by mid-August their plans for the coming academic year.
The Maryland Department of Education Released these ‘guardrails’ for school systems to follow:
- All systems must follow CDC guidelines for schools, which stress the importance of handwashing, physical distancing, and cloth face coverings. Face coverings must be worn by all staff and students, particularly when physical distancing is not possible.
- All school systems must adhere to protocols instituted by state health officials for addressing an outbreak. Schools should provide written notification and next steps to all identified contacts. Schools should follow instructions from the local health department for all matters regarding quarantine, exclusion, and return to school for persons with a positive test for COVID-19 and those who had close contact.
- All school systems must meet a series of benchmarks before reopening:
- Incorporate equity as a component in the local recovery plan;
- Establish local education recovery stakeholder groups;
- Identify learning gaps and instructional placement of students;
- Follow and maintain curricular frameworks and Maryland College and Career Ready Standards;
- Adhere to components of IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and ADA;
- Adopt and follow health procedures outlined by the MSDE, MDH, and CDC, including cleaning and sanitization;
- Ensure safe transportation for all students;
- Develop a system for tracking attendance; and
- Follow the Maryland Public Secondary Sports Athletic Association guidance for interscholastic athletics and activities.