Aug 4, 2020 - Health

Local governments go to war over schools

A protester during a demonstration in NYC.
A protester during a demonstration in NYC. Photo: Ron Adar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The next big coronavirus battleground will be over who has the final say on whether schools can stay open.

Why it matters: This involves the safety of young children and their parents, not to mention older educators and staff, and comes at the same time as many of the parents are out of work.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan has overruled wealthy Montgomery County's decision to force private schools to join public schools in going virtual-only until October.

  • “Private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines,” he said in a statement yesterday.
  • “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.”

The big picture: Different levels of government have been at odds since March over business closures, mandatory quarantines, mask mandates and more.

  • There will be outbreaks at schools that meet for classes, as has happened in other countries, and the coming weeks will be crucial as officials determine their comfort level for keeping classrooms open despite fresh infections.
  • This is particularly hard when city, county and state officials are fighting.

Between the lines: This is also playing out during a wave of evictions, destabilizing homes at the worst possible time.

The bottom line: The coronavirus has hit America unequally on many fronts, and schools will be no different.

  • But for many of the millions of American parents staring at a fall of full-time parenting, teaching and work, the prospect of all this — plus no ability to plan long-term — could be the most daunting challenge of their lives.

Go deeper: What a day at school looks like in a pandemic

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