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Hogan is wrong to ignore health threat posed by transmission in private schools | READER COMMENTARY

The entrance to the Georgetown Preparatory School Bethesda where Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh spent most of his teen years. Under a recent order from Gov. Larry Hogan, schools like Georgetown can't be prevented from reopening by local health officers despite the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
The entrance to the Georgetown Preparatory School Bethesda where Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh spent most of his teen years. Under a recent order from Gov. Larry Hogan, schools like Georgetown can't be prevented from reopening by local health officers despite the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (Manuel Balce Ceneta)

I am greatly disappointed by Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent decision to not allow local governments to close private schools (”New order by Maryland Gov. Hogan says county officials can’t stop schools from reopening,” Aug. 3). Stripping local governments of this ability puts our communities and public education at risk. Allowing local governments to make this decision allows for a more targeted approach in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Places with high COVID-19 numbers should close all schools, as Montgomery County attempted, and as I believe several other counties may have (if Governor Hogan hadn’t stepped in). Now, we must rely on private schools to do the right thing rather than to focus on their bottom dollar.

There are approximately 18,000 students in private schools in Baltimore and Baltimore County alone. If these 18,000 students return to class, along with thousands of teachers, administrators and staff, there is going to undoubtedly be a surge in COVID-19 cases. Despite each of these private school’s best efforts to minimize contagion, there will be COVID-19 spread. All of these schools have remote learning plans in place and are more than prepared to go that route, yet most will persist in trying to start the year in-person. I argue that this is a selfish position on the part of the schools and the families they serve. If all the private schools in the state re-open, we will see an increase in COVID-19 cases. Unfortunately, it will not be contained to those at the school. It will have a ripple effect on store clerks, neighbors, doctors, nurses and so many others within our community.

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In addition, I believe it will impact how quickly we can reopen public schools. If numbers climb, we will not be opening the doors to public schools anytime soon. It feels deeply wrong that the most privileged among us will be able to have an impact on the already challenging educational situation that our public schools are facing. Simply because families with money want their children in school, it will happen and sadly, that will impact our public school children. I applaud private schools that have made the compassionate decision to start the year fully-remote. They are the schools that are considering the safety of not only their students, faculty and staff, but also the larger community to which they belong.

Frances Kelly, Baltimore

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