ANNAPOLIS — As a previously-issued two-week closure of Maryland public schools neared its March 27 end, State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon announced a further four-week shutdown to last through April 24 in response to the spreading novel coronavirus.
The decision was announced during a press conference Wednesday, March 25, at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, and was made by the State Board of Education after “lengthy discussions” with Maryland health experts, Salmon said.
“We do not make this decision lightly. However, 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 community at large,” the superintendent said.
Salmon acknowledged it’s “too soon” to definitively say when schools will reopen given the fast-changing circumstances surrounding the virus’s spread. She said the state “will continue to reassess the situation as we move forward.”
The Maryland State Department of Education’s immediate focus, Salmon said, is fine-tuning local school systems’ educational plans and ensuring each jurisdiction has equal access to resources they might need during the prolonged closure.
“My staff at (MSDE) has been reviewing the (local superintendents’) plans to determine what support and resources the state can provide where needed,” she said. “More information will become available in the coming days as we work collaboratively on a statewide plan that maintains equitable standards and expectations for students.”
Salmon said local school systems are responsible for communicating with their individual communities as they move forward with implementing their plans.
When asked whether summer school is on the table for students to make up for lost educational time, Salmon said the state is “going to look at all kinds of creative solutions going forward.”
“We may look at an extended year, but we’re trying to get geared up to do the continuity of learning piece first and then we’ll have some time,” the superintendent said. “Once we get that down and understand how effective that is, then we can start planning for other kinds of things we might need to do.”