Across the country, families are trying to navigate the ins and outs of back-to-school season in the middle of a global pandemic. Do you send your kids to class with face masks, and if so, how many? How will parent-teacher conferences work if it’s safer to stay home? How long can you — and your kids — last with a school-from-home scenario? As it turns out, America’s first family is probably asking all of these questions, and more.
As People reports, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, where 14-year-old Barron Trump has attended school since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, will remain closed until at least October 1 due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, per Montgomery County’s Health Officer, Doctor Travis Gayles, who issued the mandate for private and independent schools on Friday, July 31.
“At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers,” Gayles noted in a press release. “We have seen increases in transmission rates for COVID-19 in the State of Maryland, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia, particularly in younger age groups, and this step is necessary to protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents.”
But three days later, Maryland governor Larry Hogan blocked the guidance. “Private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines,” Hogan said according to a local NBC affiliate. In a statement posted to Twitter, he added that “as long as these schools develop safe plans that follow CDC and state guidelines, they should be empowered to do what’s best for their community.” Overwhelmingly, doctors recommend practicing social distancing as the best bet for their communities. It’s hard to see how asking kids and teachers to join together in small classrooms can follow those guidelines with a full peace of mind.
I strongly disagree with Montgomery County’s decision to mandate the closure of private and parochial schools. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/4pESSu93Tj
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) August 1, 2020
The president has previously been on the record as saying that he “would like to see the schools open, 100 percent.” He told reporters that the country would “do it safely. We’ll do it carefully,” but did not elaborate on how that would go about.
Yet many parents are currently at their wits’ end when it comes to juggling at-home work and making sure their children are learning enough. In July, Florida State University went so far as to try to ban parents from caring for their kids while they were working, only to be met with considerable (and understandable) outrage. Other parents are stressing themselves out over crash-courses in homeschooling, nanny-sharing possibilities, and, of course, the rigors of keeping their families safe from COVID-19. If you’re in that boat, just remember: You’ve got this, and you’re not alone.