Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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School opens virtually in most Md. districts

Most school districts in Maryland started school Tuesday, and in most cases, it was all online.

(Voxitatis graphic)

Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, St Mary’s, and Washington counties started on August 31, Cecil County on September 1, and Calvert County on September 2. But the remaining school districts, including Baltimore County and Baltimore City, started on the day after Labor Day.

Both Howard and Harford county schools started the year in a completely virtual mode, WBAL News Radio reported.

Gov Larry Hogan and Karen Salmon, the state superintendent of schools, visited schools on the Eastern Shore Tuesday morning, and Mr Hogan expressed hope that schools try to open up buildings for in-person instruction soon.

“We asked them to go back and take another look at [virtual schooling] by the end of the first quarter [at the end of October] to see if there weren’t some special needs kids and some folks that are really going to suffer by not having in-person instruction,” Maryland Matters quoted the governor as saying.

A shortage of Chromebooks and internet connections is plaguing Baltimore-area schools, the Baltimore Sun reported.

“The fact that schools will start on Tuesday without a clear understanding statewide of who can and who cannot access their classroom is a failure beyond epic proportions,” the paper quoted state Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, as saying. “Nothing should have been prioritized over this basic infrastructure question over the last 90 days. If kids aren’t in class, nothing else about the education system matters.”

There is no doubt that infrastructure and equipment shortages are a national problem for schools that are reopening virtually during the pandemic, as economically disadvantaged students will not be afforded the same access to opportunity as their wealthier peers.

Anecdotally, I can say many of my friends with young children in school had a good time on the first day. From what I hear, virtual physical education classes are a hoot: kids run and jump around in a house built with wood, not in a gymnasium constructed with steel I-beams and load-bearing planks. Lots of thumping was heard on the lower floors as kids had gym class in their pajamas in their bedrooms for a teacher on a computer screen.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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