It’s back to school season, and I’m wishing everyone best of luck as a new school year gets underway! I’m counting down the days to our next session, but in the meantime I’m focused now on resolving constituent issues.
COVID-19 in Baltimore County
I support our County Executive’s decision to reinstate a state of emergency for Baltimore County amid the concerning spike in our new case rate in recent weeks, and commend my colleagues on the county council for voting to approve the measure. This will help us be more responsive if and when restrictions are necessary to bring down this transmission, ease the burden on our hospitals and save lives.
Things could be much worse here in Maryland. We have over 68 percent of adults with at least one dose. This is not a moment to give up. Please continue to mask up, keep your distance and avoid high-risk settings — and above all, please get vaccinated! Vaccinated Marylanders now make up less than 5 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in our state, and getting FDA approval for the Pfizer dose is just another reason to be confident that these vaccines are safe and effective!
Nearly 10K households have received emergency rental assistance. If you have fallen behind on payments, do not miss out on this valuable resource. Visit dhcd.maryland.gov/ to find eviction prevention resources and apply to programs in your area.
National Night Out
It was a privilege to attend a number of National Night Out events earlier this month.
National Night Out brings us together for some summer fun, but it has an important purpose — creating space to spend time with local law enforcement and first responders. Sharing a hot dog, boogying to the Bee Gees and even just having a chat can make a real difference in the relationships we share. There is room to improve our systems of public safety. But our law enforcement officers are working to protect our families, streets and communities, and it’s important that we take the time to get to know them, break bread with them and thank them.
A big thank-you to our law enforcement officers and first responders, and another big thank-you to the community organizations who put in the work to bring the National Night Out spirit to so many neighborhoods across District 8.
Back to school!
As both a parent and an educator, I’m always excited for school to start again. The achievement of starting another school year amid this unprecedented crisis should not be overlooked.
We dealt with an almost overnight shift to fully virtual learning back in spring of 2020. Then we conquered an entire year of uncertainty and turmoil, the most difficult challenge many students and educators have ever faced. Now as we start the third school year to be affected by this pandemic, I am so grateful to be back in the classroom, so proud of the strength and resilience of our students and, dare I say it, optimistic that this year will just continue to build on the lessons learned from the last.
Reminders about a few key policies Baltimore County Public Schools has put in place to keep our students, staff and communities safe:
- BCPS announced in July a policy of universal masking for the fall 2021 semester. Masks will be required on school buses and in any indoor school setting.
- All BCPS staff are required to be vaccinated, or else must submit to weekly testing. Students aged 12 and older are encouraged to get vaccinated, but at this time there is no mandate for proof of vaccination among students.
- Masks will be required for participants and spectators at indoor sporting events. They will not be required during outdoor events.
- All BCPS students, whether virtual or in-person, will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch for the duration of the school year. Contact your home school to learn more.
District Update — New Northeast Elementary School
Earlier this month I took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a brand new elementary school just off Rossville Boulevard set to open ahead of the 2022-2023 school year. As both an educator and student myself, I was thrilled at this incredible moment.
This new elementary school, right in the heart of one of Baltimore County’s fastest-growing areas, is a $53 million project and will accommodate 735 students to reduce overcrowding in our elementary schools across the board. This will be a huge boost for students and families in District 8 and will help create classrooms and communities in which our kids can thrive.
I was so proud to pass $2.2 billion for school construction projects across our state in this year’s session, including more than $300,000 for school facilities upgrades here in District 8. But there is always more to be done, and I am committed to fight for improvements that will give our kids a strong foundation for a shining future.
My huge thanks to Dr. Williams and his amazing team for bringing this together. And of course, spotlight on Mr. Kevin Jennings, who served as a wonderful principal at Joppa View Elementary School and will help build our newest school from the ground up.
Spotlight — My feature in The Washington Post
It was a pleasure to speak to a promising young reporter at The Washington Post about the role Asian American voters will play in upcoming elections, here in Maryland and across the United States. As the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country, we have more power through our votes than we realize. And know this — in 2022, we will be voting.
Check out the story: ‘Politicians turn to mobilizing voters as Maryland primaries approach.’