By Nia Fitzhugh
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
The Maryland Board of Education on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-2020 sports season.
State Superintendent Karen B. Salmon read a statement during the board’s regular meeting, stressing that the decision to cancel sports came “after careful review and consultation” with the state board and the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. The cancellation includes both the remainder of the 2020 Boys and Girls Basketball State Championships, all spring sports, and spring championships, she said.
“The MPSSAA will begin focusing their efforts on aligning the return of interscholastic athletics with the ‘Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery,’ ” Salmon said in reference to Gov. Hogan’s elaborate plan to gradually reopen Maryland businesses, loosen restrictions on residents and resume services.
On another matter, Salmon described intense efforts to issue payments for childcare providers and declared that the department is working with vendors to get all payments to essential employees.
“A team at MSDE is working side by side with our vendors to expedite all payments,” Salmon said at the virtual meeting. “We’re doing our best. It’s not quite good enough yet. But we’re getting there. We are grateful to the providers for their patience.”
Salmon explained that the delays were a result of the implementation of a brand new administrative and validation process and the volume of invoices. Also, she announced the distribution of a $2,000 grant to essential childcare providers to aide them in any challenges they might be facing as a result of COVID-19.
In addition, the board unanimously agreed to grant the state superintendent authority to waive up to five days of student attendance at the request of Maryland nonpublic schools for the 2019-2020 school year.
The tuition-based private schools are required by regulation to operate for 170 days and allot three to five additional days in their calendar to accommodate local weather patterns. As a result of the continued COVID-19 practices enforced in the state, Salmon explained that these schools have expressed difficulties meeting the 170-day requirement.
Historically, as a result of inclement weather, the board agreed to this request in both the 2009-2010 and 2013-2014 school years, officials said.