Local Officials Resist Maryland Governor’s Order to Open Private Schools

Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, are pushing back against an executive order by Governor Larry Hogan that prevents a blanket closure of private schools.

Montgomery County health officer Travis Gayles had issued an order on Friday for all private schools in the county to remain closed until at least October 1, conducting all-remote learning. Governor Hogan subsequently countered that “private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines.”

Gayles said on Wednesday that the county was “continuing to evaluate the impact of the governor’s executive order on the directive that has been put out there.” The county’s own directive “has not been rescinded.”

While Hogan said that schools should be able to decide whether to reopen on a case-by-case basis, Montgomery County’s current rules prevent schools from reopening unless newly reported coronavirus cases drop to ten per day within the county. Currently, the county is reporting about 75 cases per day.

“[Hogan’s] decision on private schools is not a good decision,” County Executive Marc Elrich said. “I wish he would let us continue working on these problems so we can get the numbers down.”

However, a spokeswoman for Hogan told Bethesda Magazine on Wednesday that the governor’s executive order absolutely overturns the county’s policy. The spokeswoman said that county officials were empowered by an earlier executive order to close individual schools if it does not follow state and national reopening guidelines.

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