Md. Dept. of Education Gives $10 Million to Support In-Person Learning
Other states are also urging communities with low coronavirus transmission rates to return to some form of in-person learning.
The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) announced it will provide $10 million in grant funding for schools that choose to reopen to students by the start of the school year’s second quarter.
The decision was made as a result of improved coronavirus metrics throughout the state, reports WBOC. The funding will be made available to local school systems, the SEED School, the Maryland School for the Blind, and the Maryland School for the Deaf.
Each grant award will include a base amount of $200,000 in addition to a per-student allocation. The money can be used for expenses related to building safety and student transportation.
“This additional $10 million in funds will assist schools in reopening and safely getting some of our kids back into classrooms and into healthy and supportive learning environments,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “With our health metrics continuing to improve, small group in-person instruction can occur safely, and should be available across the state.”
The grants will be provided through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. To qualify for funding, by Oct. 2, school systems must submit a grant application to MSDE which details the system’s in-person learning plan for the fall.
In the state of Maryland, the decision to re-open schools lays with individual school boards. So far, 16 of the state’s local school systems have submitted plans for returning students to school for some form of in-person instruction.
Other states are also urging areas where virus transmission is low to return students to some form of in-person instruction. On Monday, the Massachusetts Department of Education urged 16 communities and school districts deemed “low risk” COVID-19 areas that have chosen full remove learning to return to in-person learning in some capacity, according to Mass Live.
In a letter from Commissioner Jeffrey Riley, the agency said its guidelines only recommend remote learning for communities designated as “high risk.”
“In light of the stark discrepancy between local public health data and your reopening plan, I am requesting a timeline by which you anticipate providing in-person instruction for the majority of your students including in-person instruction for vulnerable populations,” Riley wrote.
The 16 communities are expected to respond to the agency within 10 days. According to Riley, the district’s responses could prompt an audit to assess efforts to provide in-person instruction and to also make sure remote learning programs are consistent with state guidelines.
Last week, the two-week positive testing rate in the state was at 0.9%, which is well below the threshold of 5% established by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to the letter.