Maryland Governor Overrules County’s Attempt to Force Christian and Private Schools to Close

Right now kids and parents across the country should be preparing for school to resume, and in some districts, classes have already begun. But this year many schools remain closed and students are starting the new year of learning online at home or have chosen to go to private and Christian schools that are offering more educational options. Left-leaning officials and teachers unions are demanding that the government mandate schools to remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening to strike and refuse to even provide online distance learning options. This is happening even despite the fact that, as we reported, the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci have said schools should reopen and kids should be back in the classroom. We’ve seen a disturbing trend developing in some localities across the nation, using this pandemic in a radical Left power grab to further an extreme agenda, including ordering Christian and private schools to shut down regardless of the steps they take to ensure the safety of teachers and students. In one example, the health department in Montgomery County, Maryland, issued a mandate that not only ordered public schools to remain closed, but went even further by mandating that all Christian and private schools must remain shuttered as well. Thankfully, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan took quick action to prevent this from happening – something we hope other Governors join in doing. As reported : Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday revoked the authority of county officials to mandate schools close amid a clash with local health officials. Local health officials in Maryland's Montgomery County last week made the decision to keep private and parochial schools closed through October for in-person learning, arguing that having students in the classroom would present a danger to pupils and teachers as the state grapples with COVID-19. But Hogan amended an emergency executive order, which he issued April 5, that allowed local health departments to have the authority to close any individual facility deemed to be unsafe. He called the Montgomery County mandate "overly broad." Governor Hogan challenged county leaders, opting to let private schools make reopening decisions themselves. The Governor tweeted an official statement: Private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines. 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 . . . . As long as schools develop safe and detailed plans that follow CDC and state guidelines, they should be empowered to do what’s best for their community. We support Governor Hogan’s decision to let private schools decide when and how they should open. The ACLJ is also taking direct action to assist families across the nation, as at-home learning creates additional burdens on struggling parents. In fact, we’ve now been contacted by some 1,500 individual families who feel they’re being adversely affected by school closures. In some Arizona school districts, as we reported , even though their schools have been deemed unsafe for normal classes, the district is temporarily offering some of those same classrooms as “child care” centers – with structured curriculum – during regular school hours for an additional weekly fee of $160 per child. For a family with just two kids, that’s an EXTRA $320 out of pocket every week . That’s on top of the tax dollars they’re already paying to fund those same schools. We’ve sent four legal letters to that district demanding they only charge for child care before and after regular classroom hours, as is reasonable. Any supervision, interaction, and instruction during normal class time should be free, as mandated by state law, because it is already paid for by taxes. The ACLJ is representing families across America, free of charge. We’re not demanding schools open. But we are working to develop out-of-the-box solutions, and reaching out to local school boards urging them to work with families. Every child has the right to a quality education. We must put kids first. Take action with us. Sign our petition demanding our tax dollars go where parents need them. Learn more about our efforts to help families obtain the educational opportunities they need during this pandemic by going to ACLJ.org/SchoolChoice .