- The Washington Times
Monday, August 3, 2020

It turns out Barron Trump may be returning to the classroom after all.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan overrode Monday the public-health order issued Friday by Montgomery County health officer Dr. Travis Gayles, which had required all non-public schools to close for in-person instruction until Oct. 1.

Dr. Gayles cited the increase in novel coronavirus transmission rates in Maryland, Virginia and the District, but in his amended emergency order, Mr. Hogan called the county mandate “overly broad.”

“Private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines,” said Mr. Hogan in a statement. “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 county order would have prevented Barron Trump from attending St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Potomac, prompting a spate of stories about the 14-year-old’s back-to-school prospects in publications such as Time, People and Business Insider.

Foes of President Trump’s push to reopen schools for in-person learning caused the teen’s name to trend Monday on Twitter.

“Send Barron to school first. Then we’ll talk about sending our kids back,” tweeted Holly Figueroa O’Reilly, founder of the pro-Democrat group Blue Wave Crowdsource.

Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent Jack Smith announced last week that the district would open for virtual-learning only for the fall semester.

“To be clear, Maryland’s recovery continues to be based on a flexible, community-based approach that follows science, not politics,” said Mr. Hogan. “As long as schools develop safe and detailed plans that follow CDC and state guidelines, they should be empowered to do what’s best for their community.”

He also touted some good news: The state reported a drop in the COVID-19 positivity rate to 4.36%, the second lowest of the pandemic, and a drop in the daily positivity rate to 4.13%, with hospitalizations falling slightly to 548, with 135 ICU beds occupied.

The positivity rate was above 5% as of Monday in five counties, although not Montgomery County.

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