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House Republicans Fight Anne Arundel Edict Closing Private and Religious Schools

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – House Republicans today decried the edict from the Anne Arundel County Health Officer that fundamentally prohibits private and religious schools from opening for in-person learning. Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman sent a letter to private and religious schools in the County yesterday, stating they must submit a COVID-19 safety plan to the Anne Arundel County Department of Health 14 days prior to reopening, and that plan must be approved by the department in order for them to reopen. The letter also states that in order for schools to reopen safely, the rate of cases in the community must be "low enough to minimize the risk of school based transmission", but gives no definition of what "low enough" means.

House Minority Leader Nic Kipke and House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga sent a letter to the Governor sharing their concerns that the the county's action was in violation of the state's health policy prohibiting the blanket closure of non-public schools. They also renewed their request that the Governor declare schools essential.

"This action by the Pittman Administration is an attack on the rights of families attending private and religious schools in Anne Arundel County," said House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga. "Now that they have lost the battle in Montgomery County, the teachers unions and their allies have set their sights on private and religious schools in Anne Arundel. It is no surprise they have found a willing partner in the Pittman Administration. It is an outrage that this Administration would weaponize the COVID-19 crisis to benefit their union allies and intimidate the families who attend these non-public schools."

"This action is a clear violation of the health policy of the state that prohibits the blanket closure of nonpublic schools," said House Minority Leader Nic Kipke. "While the letter may initially look like a series of recommendations, it is a direct prohibition against opening these schools. The requirements for opening are vague and arbitrary and no other private establishment is burdened with anything similar."

The full text of the letter to the Governor is available here.

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