By Adam Pagnucco.
Defying an amended state executive order by Governor Larry Hogan, Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles has issued a new order shutting down private schools for in-person instruction through October 1. The new order follows a call with reporters today in which Gayles said county officials were “continuing to evaluate the impact of the governor’s order on the directive that we put out.”
Bring on the lawyers, folks.
The county’s press release appears below.
Montgomery County Health Officer Issues Amended Directive to Protect Public Health; Prohibiting In-Person Instruction at Nonpublic Schools Until at Least Oct. 1
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020
Reemphasizing the need to protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents as well as parents, students, teachers and staff from the spread of COVID-19, County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles today issued a new Health Officer Directive and Order that continued to direct nonpublic schools in Montgomery County to remain closed for in-person instruction until at least Oct. 1, 2020. Today’s order, citing the Maryland Code Annotated Health General § 18-208 and COMAR 10.06.01.06, rescinds and replaces the Health Officer Directive and Order Regarding Private and Independent Schools dated July 31, 2020. The new order, which is effective immediately, remains valid until Oct. 1, 2020, or until rescinded, superseded, amended, or revised by additional orders.
County officials continue to base their public health decisions on data and the data and science and at this point, the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students, teachers and others who work in a school building. There have been increases in transmission rates of 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.
Nonpublic schools are defined as any school located in Montgomery County, Maryland that are not public schools. This includes, but is not limited to all private pay schools, schools affiliated with religious institutions, or schools that are otherwise considered to be independent schools. The Order does not apply to programs licensed or regulated by the Maryland Office of Childcare. Those programs were reopened effective July 19, 2020 pursuant to County Executive Order 082-20.
Based on CDC best practices for the reopening of schools, County health officials will continue to monitor the epidemiological surveillance data and that will guide the decision as to when it is safe to reopen nonpublic and public schools.