WASHINGTON (AP) — United States (US) President Donald Trump insists that schools re-open so students can go back to their classrooms, but the Maryland private school where his son Barron is enrolled is among those under county orders to stay closed.
Montgomery County Health Officer Dr Travis Gayles said his order to stay closed for in-person instruction through October 1 and to conduct online classes only will be reevaluated before October 1 to determine whether it should be extended, terminated or amended.
Gayles noted increases in transmission rates for COVID-19 — the disease caused by the virus — in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia, particularly in younger age groups.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have based our decisions on science and data,” Gayles said in a news release announcing the decision late Friday. “At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers.”
Barron, 14, is due to enter ninth grade at St Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, which is located in Montgomery County. The 2020-2021 school year is slated to begin on September 8.
St Andrew’s has been preparing for two different options: distance learning or a hybrid model with students learning both on an off campus. The school had planned to make a final decision the week of August 10 and notify families, according to a note on the school website.
Trump argues that children are being harmed by being away from the classroom. Federal medical experts have said decisions about re-opening schools should be made locally.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan criticised the Montgomery County order, saying those decisions should be made by schools and parents, not politicians. The White House and St Andrew’s Episcopal School did not immediately return requests for comment late Saturday on the Montgomery County order.