May 7—BALTIMORE — Although the number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 are decreasing in Maryland, the pandemic has caused lasting damage to the academic, physical, social and emotional well-being of students across the state.
A new initiative, Project Bounce Back, aims to address and improve the situation, Gov. Larry Hogan said at the Webster Kendrick Boys & Girls Club Thursday.
The $25 million "first in the nation" public and private partnership will extend the Maryland Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs to every county in the state, and prioritize Title 1 school districts and rural communities to reach 45,000 children.
The project will use resources from groups and businesses, including the Maryland State Department of Education, Governor's Office of Crime Prevention and Youth and Microsoft to provide a support network for Maryland youths and families, Hogan said.
"The uncertainty and isolation of the past year combined with prolonged school closures has been devastating for (students') emotional health, educational progress and developmental well-being," he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently identified pandemic-related adverse childhood experiences that can severely undermine a child's sense of safety and stability, and are linked to health problems, mental illness and substance abuse in adulthood.
"The mission of this new initiative is to provide critical services to young people in need and to build post-COVID resilience," Hogan said.
The project will create a new partnership between the Maryland State Police and the Maryland Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs to promote positive mentorships and "grow community and police relationships," Hogan said.
Additionally, MSDE will launch six regional mental health crisis teams to collaborate with local school systems, and new technology platforms will enable nonprofits such as the Boys & Girls Clubs to provide services like job development skills to youths across the state.
"Through Project Bounce Back, we are leveraging the full weight of the government and the private sector to connect Maryland youth with the critical support services that they need," Hogan said.
"The single most important thing our local schools systems can do to help get our kids back on track is to utilize the more than $1.2 billion in federal funding that we've provided," he said of money for targeted tutoring, summer in-school learning opportunities "and full in-person five days a week instruction for every single child in Maryland."
Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said many students that once excelled academically are now failing.
"Children are overwhelmed, anxious and depressed," she said.
"Sadly, too many students have yet to access a normal classroom learning experience," Salmon said and added fewer than half of pre-K through 12 students across the state are receiving any in-person instruction.
Lorraine Orr, chief operating officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, said access to guidance, mentors, technology and healthy food contribute to the positive development of young people.
"I've had the opportunity to visit a lot of states in the last year and I will tell you, what you all have announced here today in terms of Project Bounce Back, I haven't heard of anything quite as innovative," she said.
Maryland's Helpline, formerly the Maryland Crisis Hotline, is available 24/7 to provide support, guidance and assistance. To learn more, call 211 or visit 211MD.org.
Maryland surpasses 5 million vaccinations
Maryland on Thursday officially surpassed 5 million administered COVID-19 vaccinations as the state's key health metrics continued to decline.
According to CDC data, 62.9% of Marylanders age 18 and older, and 85.2% of state residents age 65 and older, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Marylanders can immediately book an appointment to get vaccinated at a mass vaccination site by visiting covidvax.maryland.gov or calling the state's COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829) available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
State and local COVID-19 cases
The Maryland Department of Health Thursday reported 578 new COVID-19 cases, nine additional deaths and 33 fewer hospitalizations.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maryland continued to decline, and are down 54% from their winter peak.
The daily COVID-19 case rate was 3.66% statewide, 4.96% in Allegany County, 5.83% in Garrett County and 6.34% in Washington County.
The seven-day moving average case rate per 100,000 people was 11.36 statewide, 11.16 in Allegany County, 7.88 in Garrett County and 15.7 in Washington County.