Political News

Hogan overrules Maryland county order delaying in-person education at private schools, including Barron Trump's

Posted August 3, 2020 4:59 p.m. EDT

— Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday overruled an order prohibiting some private schools in the state from conducting on-campus learning for the start of the academic year, including the school attended by President Donald Trump's youngest son.

Hogan said in a statement Monday afternoon that the Montgomery County, Maryland, health officer overstepped his bounds when he issued a directive last week demanding that private schools in the Washington, DC, suburb not conduct in-person learning until October 1. The governor issued an emergency order reversing the October 1 mandate, saying in a statement the decision on whether private schools in the county could reopen in-person is up to individual schools and parents.

"The blanket closure mandate imposed by Montgomery County was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer," said Hogan, who added all Maryland schools should follow guidelines from the state and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop safe plans for how and when to return to school.

Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles in his order cited rising coronavirus cases in Maryland as part of the reason for the October 1 decision.

"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have based our decisions on science and data," Gayles had 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."

Barron Trump, 14, is scheduled to enter the 9th grade at St. Andrew's Episcopal School, a private school in Potomac, Maryland, part of Montgomery County.

The school's academic year is set to begin in early September, but school officials have not yet made an independent decision about whether to open with on-campus learning, or via virtual classes, according to a letter sent to parents last month and seen by CNN. The letter states a final decision will be made the week of August 10.

The President has reiterated his desire for schools to reopen around the country with in-person learning as quickly as possible. Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos dismissed calls last week for the administration to release a national plan aimed at opening schools, but still demanded that all schools open even though the virus still rages in multiple hot zones.

CNN has reached out to St. Andrew's and the White House for comment.

Hogan, who has been a vocal critic of Trump on several matters pertaining to coronavirus and the federal response, said in his statement Monday: "To be clear, Maryland's recovery continues to be based on a flexible, community-based approach that follows science, not politics."

Montgomery County's public schools have already issued a decision stating school will be online only through at least the first semester of the 2020 school year.

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