Sunday, August 2, 2020

Montgomery County private school parents mobilize to challenge closure order

Holy Redeemer School in Kensington
Montgomery County parents of children in private schools have moved quickly this weekend to counter a Friday county government order preventing those schools from opening through October 1. As of this morning, I am aware of two legal challenges to County Health Officer Travis Gayles' order being prepared. At least one Facebook group was started, and quickly grew to over 2000 members. And an online petition has begun gathering signatures.

In addition to challenging the legal authority of the County to shutter private schools, some parents have also questioned the blanket nature of the order, rather than having the County review the specific plans of each school by set standards. For example, a member of the Holy Redeemer School advisory board noted that the school's classrooms all have exterior doors, and that the school has no buses or cafeteria, and argued that such circumstances would allow it to operate with a greater degree of safety. 

Advocates of keeping instruction online-only for now counter that it is the enclosed classroom environment that will put students, teachers and the at-risk populations they interact with outside of school in danger of contracting Covid-19. Some private school teachers had lobbied for a closure in recent weeks, saying they want the same protection that Montgomery County Public School employees are getting with the closure of public schools for the fall semester.

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