Reemphasizing the need to protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents as well as parents, students, teachers and staff from the spread of COVID-19, County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles today issued a new Health Officer Directive and Order that continued to direct nonpublic schools in Montgomery County to remain closed for in-person instruction until at least Oct. 1, 2020.
Today’s order, citing the Maryland Code Annotated Health General § 18-208 and COMAR 10.06.01.06, rescinds and replaces the Health Officer Directive and Order Regarding Private and Independent Schools dated July 31, 2020. The new order, which is effective immediately, remains valid until Oct. 1, 2020, or until rescinded, superseded, amended, or revised by additional orders.
County officials continue to base their public health decisions on data and the data and science and at this point, the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students, teachers and others who work in a school building. There have been increases in transmission rates of COVID-19 in the State of Maryland, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia, particularly in younger age groups, and this step is necessary to protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents.
Nonpublic schools are defined as any school located in Montgomery County, Maryland that are not public schools. This includes, but is not limited to all private pay schools, schools affiliated with religious institutions, or schools that are otherwise considered to be independent schools.
The Order does not apply to programs licensed or regulated by the Maryland Office of Childcare. Those programs were reopened effective July 19, 2020 pursuant to County Executive Order 082-20.
Based on CDC best practices for the reopening of schools, County health officials will continue to monitor the epidemiological surveillance data and that will guide the decision as to when it is safe to reopen nonpublic and public schools.
Full press release available here.
Maryland Code Annotated Health General § 18-208 requires approval of the council before taking an action “to prevent the spread of the disease.” The council did not approve this Order and has held no hearing on this. Please ask councilmembers how is this a lawful Order?
What makes Oct 1 a magical day to re-open the private schools? The County is just being petty because the Private Schools figured out a way to be safe. (Granted it is much easier when you have less students, no buses, and less bureaucracy.)
Let’s attempt to open the public schools by then as well. Just give parents and teachers the option to opt out. If you don’t think it is safe for your kids, go with virtual learning. If a teacher doesn’t feel safe, figure out a system where they teach virtually or give them a year off.