- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2020

Montgomery County rescinded Friday its order closing for non-public schools for in-person learning, ending the weeklong back-and-forth with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan that had thrown private and independent schools into limbo.

County health officer Dr. Travis Gayles said his decision to pull the order, which would have blocked private schools from reopening their classrooms until Oct. 1, was based on a policy announced Thursday by the state Department of Health banning blanket closures of non-public schools.

“The Health Officer continues to strongly advise schools against in-person learning due to the risks posed by COVID-19 and has asked that the Department of Health provide articulable criteria to be used in determining acceptable and safe levels of activity in schools,” said the county in a statement.

Mr. Hogan praised the county’s decision, saying he was “[p]leased to see that Montgomery Co. has rescinded the blanket mandate closing private and parochial schools.”

“As long as their plans follow CDC and state guidelines, they should have the same flexibility as public school systems & be empowered to do what’s best for their community,” tweeted Mr. Hogan.

The announcement came with the state’s seven-day positivity rate for the novel coronavirus falling to 4.05%, its lowest level of the global pandemic. The state also reported a record low one-day positivity rate of 3.08%.

Dr. Gayles’ order was met with outrage by some private-school families, who held a socially distanced protest Wednesday at the county building in Rockville. Six families filed a lawsuit to block the public-health order.

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