Photo courtesy Larry Hogan's press conference
Maryland’s previously mandated two week public school closure until March 27 is now extended for an additional four weeks until April 24, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced in a March 25 press conference.
“We do not make this decision lightly,” she said. “With the challenges facing our state and our country, we have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our school communities and the communities at large.”
State officials have been working closely with local superintendents to come up with plans for online learning and “all kinds of creative solutions going forward,” including potentially extending the school year, Salmon said.
While Maryland hasn’t closed schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year like several other states have, including Virginia, Governor Larry Hogan said during the same press conference that sending students back to schools in four weeks is “somewhat aspirational.”
“It’d be wonderful if we get to the point where we’ve bent the curve, but obviously we’re not going to send kids back if things are unsafe and we’re still climbing and people are getting infected,” he said.
This week, administrators, teachers and students across Maryland are preparing for online learning for the remainder of the closure.
MCPS will distribute Chromebooks only to students who don’t have access to a computer at home. Elementary and high school students should pick up their Chromebooks at the school they attend, while middle school students should pick them up at their closest elementary school. To pick up a laptop, students or the parent or guardian will need to either present their student ID or student ID number. Pick up times for high school students are 8 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. March 26. Times for elementary and middle school students to pick up Chromebooks vary based on location and can be found on the MCPS website.
After announcing March 17 that he had plans to increase Maryland’s number of hospital beds by an additional 6,000, Hogan said today that they’ve made 2,400 extra beds available, putting them weeks ahead of schedule.
Additionally, Maryland received $4 million from the federal government to help provide at-home meals for senior citizens in need. Hogan also encouraged older Marylanders to sign up for a free telephone service where phone operators check in with them every day at a scheduled time.
Throughout the press conference, Hogan stressed that the COVID-19 outbreak is just beginning in Maryland and across the nation and that everyone should continue practicing social distancing to help limit the spread of the virus.
“People are looking for certainty. But the truth is, we simply don’t yet know how bad it’s going to get, or how long it’s going to last, or how successful these social distancing actions are going to be in flattening the curve,” he said. “What we do know is that it is not going to be over in a matter of days or even weeks. It is critically important that every single person remains vigilant and continues doing their part by staying in place in their homes as much as possible so that we can break the back of this virus.”
Whitman students who don’t have access to a computer at home can pick up a Chromebook in the bus loop in front of Whitman’s main entrance. Instructions are as follows:
“The curbside pickup process will work as follows. Cars will enter Walt Whitman from Whittier Boulevard and proceed to the bus loop. Cars will be directed to drive up to the pickup point and remain in their car with a window rolled down. Cars need to have a placard displaying their student’s id number on their dashboard. Please make sure the student ID number is clearly printed and large enough to be visible from a distance of six feet. The staff member distributing the Chromebook will record the student ID on the Chromebook barcode inventory sheet, and provide the family with the corresponding Chromebook and a charger.”
For more information on the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to these resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Maryland Department of Health
Montgomery County Public Schools
Montgomery County Department of Disease Control and Epidemiology — 240-777-1755
Maryland Department of Health and Infectious diseases — 410-767-6700