Updates from the State Superintendent


Message to Maryland’s Child Care Providers

By: Karen B. Salmon, Ph.D., State Superintendent of Schools

On behalf of the Maryland State Department of Education, I want to thank Maryland’s child care providers, teachers and staff who have agreed to deliver services for those essential persons and first responders on the front lines combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize the financial and health risks you are taking to help stop the spread of the virus and save lives. Without you, doctors and nurses could not treat patients, paramedics could not respond to emergencies, law enforcement officers could not maintain order, grocery store clerks could not stock shelves with necessities, and drivers could not deliver supplies. Child care providers are the foundation of Maryland’s pandemic mitigation and recovery efforts, and we are grateful to you.

We understand there are many questions about the current invoicing and payment process. MSDE continues to process payments for 2,880 child care providers participating in the Child Care Scholarship (CCS) program based on child enrollment, not attendance. For those child care providers who have stepped forward and agreed to provide child care through the Essential Personnel Child Care (EPCC) or the Essential Persons School Age (EPSA) programs, we are working with our CCS vendor to process invoices as quickly possible while ensuring CCS payments are also processed. To meet the challenge, the CCS vendor has doubled its invoice processing team to 50 persons strong. MSDE’s team is working tirelessly side-by-side with our vendor to verify and expedite all payments and apologize for any delays some may be experiencing. MSDE will continue to work to ensure child care providers have the financial and other resources needed to thrive. If you have any questions, please contact us through this invoice assistance google form.

Our state’s child care providers will be vital to our recovery efforts and the reestablishment of a strong and thriving economy. MSDE is evaluating ways in which the $45 million in Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding can be used to support child care or essential persons and assist child care providers once the state of emergency is lifted.

Thank you for keeping Maryland’s children safe and healthy every day.


Special Announcement: School Closure Extended to May 15

After extensive consultation with the State Board of Education and leading public health experts in the State, I am extending the closure of schools through May 15th.  With regards to the remainder of the school year and summer, we will use this time to examine every option, and continue to develop a long-term plan for recovery.

In a very short timeframe, school systems have continued to increase their digital presence and capabilities to provide learning opportunities to all students. All school systems must submit their continuity of learning plans to MSDE. The plans include an overall description of how systems will deliver continuity of learning to all students:

  • A description of the roles and responsibilities of district staff, school administrators, teachers, instructional assistants, students, and parents.
  • A sample teacher and student day.
  • A plan of accountability for how systems will monitor and assess student performance.
  • A description of how the school system plans to address equity for special education students, English learners, students with academic needs, and homeless students.
  • A section that identifies the professional development plan for staff. And a description of the resources currently available for students.

We are helping school systems to obtain the resources, such as additional devices, platforms for learning, and expanded broadband capabilities, that they need to carry out their plans in an equitable and meaningful way. We are hopeful that the additional $207 million dollars in funding from the federal CARES Act, 90 percent of which will go directly to local school systems, will help to address gaps in the availability of these resources.

After speaking with local superintendents this past week, school systems have also started to develop plans for additional digital learning and the recovery of any lost instructional time in the form of expanding summer school programs.  State and local school officials are preparing for a number of scenarios depending on when our educators and students would be able to re-enter school buildings. At the Department, we have started to develop a long-term plan for recovery and will actively seek to engage stakeholders throughout the State as the plan comes to fruition.

I understand the impact that the uncertainty of this situation has created for everyone in our school communities, especially for groups like our high school seniors. We want seniors and their families to have the opportunity to recognize their wonderful accomplishments from their time in high school and receive their diplomas. Local superintendents have been working on a number of creative alternatives to ensure our high school seniors receive the recognition they deserve.

I would like to take a moment to give recognition to all of our local school superintendents for their unwavering tenacity and outstanding leadership during this unprecedented time.  Additionally, I want to thank the teachers, for their hard work and flexibility as they provide instruction to our over 900,000 students across the State.  I want to recognize the school system staff that provide support services to students such as counselors, psychologists and specialists – as their work is especially crucial during this time of uncertainty.  There are also some unsung heroes operating in our schools and they are the food service workers, custodial and maintenance staff and many other employees that have been working 24/7 to make and deliver food, clean and sanitize and keep our school’s infrastructure in great shape.  Thank you for your dedication and tireless efforts.

We continue to provide child care services to essential personnel at more than 3,700 State-funded sites across Maryland. Over 25,000 children of essential personnel are enrolled in these sites, and the State has the capacity to serve an additional 20,000 if the need should arise. Eligible families can continue to identify locations where child care services are available at licensed child and family care centers, as well as a number of YMCAs, senior centers, and Boys and Girls Clubs, through the LOCATE hotline service and through comprehensive lists available on the State Department of Education website. I am pleased that the State of Maryland has received an additional 45.8 million dollars from the federal CARES Act to support the maintenance of child care programs and continuation of child care services for essential personnel in our State during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we celebrate the Week of the Child, I want to thank all those individuals providing child care who have dedicated their lives to children. You are all champions  and we thank you for stepping up during this crisis.

Challenges remain as we take these unprecedented and swift steps to continue learning for students, and I want to thank our educators, parents, and students who have exhibited incredible patience and stepped up tremendously throughout this difficult and unprecedented time.

Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life.  A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes, it is a catalyst … a spark that creates extraordinary results. Let’s continue to stay positive and work together while we are physically apart.


All Child Care Providers to be Closed by the end of the day Friday, March 27th Except Those Serving Essential Personnel

Beginning at the end of the day on Friday, March 27, 2020, all child care programs are to be closed.

During this State of Emergency, child care programs have been established by the State to serve only designated essential personnel.

These programs are at no cost to designated essential personnel. Eligible programs may be found on the MSDE website at earlychildhood.marylandpublicschools.org or by using the LOCATE: Child Care resource, a telephone service that is available by phone Monday - Friday at 877-261-0060 between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM.

Please see the list of designated essential personnel identified in the Governor’s March 25, 2020 Executive Order.

The children of essential personnel attending the State-funded child care programs will be kept at an appropriate distance from each other with ratios of one teacher to nine children and smaller class sizes for younger children.  

Parents/guardians are strongly urged to keep children at home as the first and best option to protect them from the virus; it should be noted in the Governor's March 13, 2020 Executive Order, licensing regulations were relaxed to allow for Family, Friend and Neighbor care for five or fewer students.

If closed licensed child care programs are willing to provide child care to children of essential personnel, they may reopen beginning March 30, 2020, with the following requirements:

  • Programs must apply with their Regional Licensing Specialists to be approved before they begin serving eligible families.
  • These programs may only reopen after a thorough cleaning has been conducted.
  • They must only serve the children of essential personnel.

Parents and caregivers of essential personnel may call one of the following numbers for additional information: