Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced he will authorize all counties in the state to safely begin reopening schools for in-person learning.
"It is essential that we all work together on flexible, hybrid plans to safely get some of our kids back into classrooms and into health and supportive learning environments. Today, I am announcing that as a result of our improved health metrics, every single county school system in the state of Maryland is now fully authorized to begin safely reopening," Hogan said during a news briefing.
Hogan said the majority of Maryland's school counties have developed plans that include returning children to the schools for "some form of in-person instruction" in the fall, including for children with special needs.
Hogan said that "of course, the authority and decision making on those safe reopenings continues to rest with those county boards of education" but their decisions need to be based on statewide metrics.
Under the new guidelines, jurisdictions that are both at or below 5% positivity rate and five new cases per 100,000 population over a seven-day average should be able to hold in-person instruction, said Dr. Jinlene Chan, acting deputy secretary at the Maryland Department of Health.
The latest numbers: Hogan said Maryland's Covid-19 positivity rate has been under 5% for 63 consecutive days since June 25, and below 4% for since Aug. 8.
"We have seen dramatic improvements in the positivity rates of every single one of our most populous jurisdictions in the state. And last week for the first time, the Covid-19 positivity rate for all 24 jurisdictions in Maryland fell below the 5% milestone. Seventeen of our 24 jurisdictions now have positivity rates below 3.5%," Hogan said.