The Baltimore Jewish Council organized an online “Lunch & Learn” session with State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon Sept. 23 to discuss the current state of education. Hosted by Sarah Mersky-Miicke, BJC’s deputy director, and Matt Peterson, the assistant director of government relations and communications, Salmon took questions on the topic of educating children during a pandemic.
Salmon said the current condition of education in Maryland is unprecedented.
“No one has ever done this in public education or nonpublic education before. … We’re doing the best we can, we take one day at a time, and we try to forget that movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ because if any of you remember that movie every day was the same, and for a while it felt like that when we were all kind of in that quarantine setting,” Salmon said.
Salmon was asked about providing internet connectivity to students in Maryland, particularly for low income students, and the pandemic’s effect on the mental health of students.
According to Salmon, the governor’s office has put $100 million towards broadband connectivity in Maryland. She added that the state’s Rural Broadband Task Force is working on it, and that longer term solutions may include putting up more towers to facilitate internet connectivity.
On the subject of children’s mental health, Salmon spoke on the difficulty children can have with comprehending the current state the country is in. When, for example, she visited the beach this summer with her 18-month-old granddaughter, her granddaughter kept trying to pull her mask off.
“It’s really tough on our kids,” Salmon said. “They don’t understand why we’re doing this, for the most part, especially our younger children.”
Salmon added that the psychological effects of the pandemic could manifest themselves in children as anxiousness, depression or sadness. To counter this, Salmon explained, school counselors and psychologists have been reaching out to different families to check in on them and their children and establish what their needs are.