With signs such as “Masks Work” and “I Miss My Friends,” Baltimore County kids and their families rallied outside the school system’s central office in Towson, Maryland, Saturday morning, hoping plans being made by the school district will include a choice for in-person learning before spring.
The current reopening plan, revised Thursday, offers hope of beginning a hybrid model in early February, but parents and kids are anxious for an “as soon as possible” return to in-person learning.
“We feel that the lockdown of schools, since March of last year, is detrimental to the overall health and wellbeing of our children,” WBAL-TV (NBC affiliate) quoted Amy Adams, a parent and an organizer of the rally, as saying.
Last fall, the opinions of some parents were starkly different. “It is just completely unsafe right now for these children to be in a school environment,” one parent involved with PTA at Ridge Ruxton Elementary School told WMAR-TV (ABC affiliate) in October. “We are risking their very lives.”
But that was then, and information relevant to Covid-19 changes daily or even more frequently.
The development of vaccines and the escalation of teachers in Maryland to Phase 1B of vaccine distribution mean teachers could be vaccinated early next month or possibly sooner. And the risk of serious illness to school-aged children is lower than that for elderly adults.
Plus, the Baltimore County plan emphasizes safety protocols, reassuring the public that ventilation in buildings has been certified as working properly to allow for the required airflow, extra hand sanitizer and soap has been ordered and is available for increased hand washing during the school day, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) is readily available to everyone who will be in the district’s 175 school buildings.
“Educators want to be in buildings with the students when it is safe to do so. The vaccine gives us a lot of hope that we are another step closer,” WBAL quoted Cindy Sexton, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, as saying at the rally.
Baltimore County Public Schools serves about 111,000 students and is the third-largest district in the state.