County officials wave off CDC and state guidelines in order to shutter religious and private schools

County officials wave off CDC and state guidelines in order to shutter religious and private schools

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, who became infamous in June for allowing packed Black Lives Matter protests in his Maryland county while prohibiting physically distanced outdoor religious services, has scrapped public health guidelines and barred all private and religious schools from opening their doors to students come fall. County Health Officer Travis Gayles issued the order in an extraordinary Friday night news dump. Not only did Gayles wait until after business hours Friday, he waited until after sundown, ensuring that the Orthodox Jewish communities in the county wouldn’t learn immediately that he was closing their schools against their wishes. Some private and religious schools had already decided to go 100% online in the fall. Montgomery County Public Schools had decided to go 100% online in the fall. But for a minority of private schools, Elrich and Gayles denied any choice: No matter what the parents and teachers wanted, and no matter what the schools did to keep students safe, they wouldn’t be allowed to open their doors. “As long as these schools develop safe plans that follow CDC and state guidelines,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a tweet objecting to Gayles’s and Elrich’s decision, “they should be empowered to do what is best for their community. This is a decision for schools and parents, not for politicians.” Gayles, though, tossed out those guidelines. Gayles on Wednesday led a conference call with heads of private and religious schools. In the call, Gayles didn’t tell the school leaders the news he would ...
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