Montgomery County Private Schools Directed to Stay Closed for Start of Academic Year

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Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles issued a directive Friday ordering private and independent schools in the county to remain closed for in-person instruction through Oct. 1.

The announcement was made Friday evening in a Montgomery County news release, explaining the decision intends to “protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents as well as parents, students, teachers and staff from the spread of COVID-19.” Gayles will reevaluate the directive prior to Oct. 1 to determine whether it “should be extended, terminated or amended in any way.”

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have based our decisions on science and data,” Gayles said in a statement. “At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers. 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.”

The county defines “nonpublic schools” 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 county news release says, “A person who knowingly and willfully violates the Order is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction, is subject to imprisonment not to exceed one year, a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both.”

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith announced July 21 that MCPS will provide virtual-only learning through Jan. 21, 2021 because of the coronavirus. County health officers say they will continue to monitor epidemiological surveillance data to determine when all schools can reopen safely.

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