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In-Person Reopening Plans Approved For All Maryland Schools As Some Teachers And Parents Express Frustration: 'Left Running In Circles'

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Maryland's superintendent of schools told the state school board Tuesday that she has approved reopening plans for in-person instruction for every district in Maryland.

"All of the plans are either rated acceptable or comprehensive so everybody's plan is ok to go back to school in some fashion," said Dr. Karen Salmon. "...Everybody is able to open and most school systems are opening right now if they already haven't. They are opening gradually over the next few weeks—so we're going to start to see an increase in the number of students getting back to school, at least that's our hope."

You can watch the meeting by clicking right here.

Some board members expressed concern about a lack of personal protective equipment on some campuses.


The state superintendent said systems should be prepared to handle positive cases. "Don't send your kids to school sick. That's number one. The second piece is when we do see a student with symptoms, they have to have an area for isolation," she told the board.

The teachers' union again voiced concerns about the safety of returning to in-person instruction. Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost stressed teachers are hard at work even without many students back in the classroom yet.

"They continue to be demonized by some elected officials and some of you, and it really needs to stop," Bost said. "To inquire as to why bars and restaurants can open and schools can't show a sincere lack of knowledge and recognition of what takes place in our schools."

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Several parents voiced frustration to the state board over student-athletes not getting to play.

"Parents who've tried to find guidance and answers are left running in circles. The state tells them that decisions are left to the local school systems. And local school systems tell them their hands are tied because the decision rests with the state," said Catherine McDonogh, a mother of four from Frederick.

One of the latest school systems to announce an in-person reopening plan is Harford County.


Harford County's Superintendent will bring some students back to class by October 19. Learning support centers are already open.

"We've had some interruptions. We've had kids come in with symptoms and things like that... but by and large, we've been able to operate those pretty safely," Superintendent Dr. Sean Bulson told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren.

By December, he said all grades are scheduled to get in-person instruction two days a week.

He told Hellgren his main message to parents is this: "We want your children back in school. We're going to do this safely and the best we can in this really difficult environment but we do want them back in school."

Here is the Harford County timeline:

  • October 12 Staff return to work sites
  • October 19 Limited small-group activities begin
  • November 4 1-day/week hybrid begins in Grades 3-5
  • 1-day/week hybrid begins in Pre-K
  • November 16 1-day/week hybrid begins in secondary schools (Grades 6-12)
  • 2-day/week hybrid begins in Grades K-2
  • December 7 2-day/week hybrid possible in all grades

Every system in central Maryland has some strategy to get students back into class before the end of the year—but they all caution those plans could get rolled back if there is an outbreak.

Baltimore City told WJZ the system would update parents on October 16th.

Catholic schools in the area have already reopened to in-person instruction.

There have been several reported positive cases, including at Archbishop Spalding High in Severn.

The latest report comes from St. Ursula's in Parkville where three students tested positive. St. Ursula's principal said proper safety protocol has been followed and those exposed are now learning virtually.

Letter Sent Home To Parents

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.

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