In an effort to encourage more schools to offer in-person learning, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) announced Thursday that Maryland is adopting the new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that students can be spaced three feet apart in classrooms with masks on.
“Every single Maryland student must have the opportunity to return to attending school in some form or fashion, and this updated CDC guidance is another step in the right direction,” Hogan said in a statement. “The time has come to give our kids a chance to get back in the classroom, and to open all of the schools.”
The new CDC guidance also removed its recommendation for physical barriers between students. The CDC updated its guidance for K-12 schools last week.
According to the Maryland Department of Education, Prince George’s and Charles County have not offered in-person learning — though both are moving in that direction.
State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon and Deputy Public Health Secretary Dr. Jinlene Chan wrote to local superintendents Thursday, informing them of the updated CDC guidance. They urged local school systems to bring more students back into the classrooms, although acknowledging hat adults should continue to maintain six feet apart.
“This updated guidance is the result of numerous and robust academic studies finding that 3 ft of distance between students did not significantly impact transmission of COVID-19 when compared to the earlier 6 ft distancing guidance. Adults should continue to maintain 6 ft distance from students and other adults,” Salmon and Chan wrote.
“This updated guidance and the continued low rate of cases in schools should empower all Maryland schools to bring more students back into the classroom and/or give students the opportunity to receive in-person instruction more frequently before the end of the school year. In accordance with the CDC guidance, schools should implement phased prevention strategies with an emphasis on prioritizing in-person learning,” they continued.