Gov. Larry Hogan kicks off new school year by visiting Caroline Co. students
CAROLINE CO., Md. – Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon kicked off the new school year in Caroline County on Tuesday, where small groups of students returned for in-person classes.
“I was expecting to see kids that were struggling more than they were. They were so excited to be back,” says Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
“I think it was very exciting and just exactly what we’ve been talking about and envisioning is this gradual return to public education in any way that we can,” says State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon.
Caroline is one of 16 jurisdictions that developed plans to start bringing kids back to school for some form of in-person instruction this fall. “We got to participate in some Zoom classes with the teachers and say hi to the kids that were at home learning as well. They seem to be doing really well too. A couple of the teachers said they had one hundred percent participation,” says Hogan.
County educators say connectivity is still a challenge for them as they work to double their broadband capabilities so some of the students returning in person are those who faced technology hurdles.
Meanwhile, officials say they continue to help with access to school meals. “Our food service has not stopped. We’ve always had a plan and more challenging now because we have some students in the building and some not in the building. So we need to meet all of our students’ needs. So we’re literally doing door to door while we’re serving here at school,” says Caroline County Superintendent Dr. Patricia Saelens.
This all comes just about a week after state officials voted to require jurisdictions take another look at their reopening plans, in order to safely incorporate in person instruction. “We still are leaving it completely up to the local jurisdictions with some guidance from the state board,” says Hogan.
While classrooms may not be as full as they were this time last year, Governor Hogan believes Caroline is an example of how to safely reopen for kids who need face to face instruction. “I know it’s not quite the same as being back in schools but I know they’re doing an incredible job trying to reach all the kids, every way they can in safe way,” says Hogan.
Officials say superintendents will work closely with their local health departments to monitor any positive cases among students and staff and then implement any appropriate protocols when necessary.
Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon say they expect to visit other schools across the state in the coming weeks.