Senator Reilly Introduces Bill to Allow Virtual Public School in Maryland

March 22, 2021

Senator Edward R. Reilly (R-Anne Arundel) has introduced Primary and Secondary Education – Virtual Schools – Alterations (S.B. 941), a bill that would provide Maryland families with the opportunity to choose a tuition-free, full-time online public school option for their children.

“COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives in innumerable ways over the past year, and I’m very happy that many public-school students are beginning to return to in-person learning and enjoy the sense of normalcy that it brings,” said Reilly, who represents District 33. “But the pandemic has also shown us that certain ‘new normals’ are here to stay. We have witnessed that some students actually thrive with online learning and, along with their families, would benefit from a carefully crafted full-time virtual public-school option. Multiple surveys demonstrate a growing interest in this option for our families, and I’m proud to advocate for this choice in Maryland.”

The bill will authorize the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), a county board of education, or a public institution of higher education to establish a statewide virtual school and allow students to enroll in any virtual school in the state, regardless of where they live.

According to Senator Reilly, the experiences of students attending virtual public schools in the 33 states offering this option highlight its many potential benefits. Reilly said the option can not only provide safety, accessibility, flexibility, and unique learning opportunities that a particular district’s brick-and-mortar public school may lack, but can also help students develop the accountability, tech-savviness, and other qualities and skills that are essential for success in the post-K-12 world.

“As a father of four and a grandfather of ten, I know that full-time online public school wouldn’t have been best for all 14 of them and certainly isn’t right for everyone,” said Reilly. “But I now recognize that virtual learning allows some students to truly thrive.  Now is the time for Maryland to help them continue thriving.”

The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on S.B. 941 on March 18, 2021.

Further details and the full text of the bill are available here.