By Justin Paprocki and Alan Brody
ANNAPOLIS – Cars crowded streets outside St. Mary’s Catholic School, parents greeted children, and crossing guards helped students, except this Tuesday was like no other — terrorist attacks had struck Washington and New York City.
“The children are upset. The parents are upset,” said Nick Pante, at the school to pick up his eighth-grade son Saavas. “You can see some of the children crying.”
Several state public school systems closed early Tuesday, but plan to operate normally Wednesday.
Psychologists and pupil personnel workers will be available for grief- stricken faculty and students, Baltimore and Charles County administrators said.
Also in Charles County, several middle and high school classes held discussions to help students express their reactions to the horrific news.
Airliners crashed into the Pentagon in Virginia and into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center Tuesday morning. The loss of life is expected to be great.
Maryland State Department of Education officials directed all state schools to close at their discretion after Gov. Parris Glendening declared a state of emergency.
School districts statewide coordinated bus transportation for students to leave early, following an emergency plan similar to winter weather closings.
Some school districts opted to remain open because many students would not have parental supervision.
“Local school districts should be careful in using this discretion, since many parents are tied up in traffic and will not be home immediately,” Glendening said in a statement. “I urge all public school officials to use extreme caution in ensuring that children arrive home safely today.”
Phyllis Dowd came to St. Mary’s to pick up her son, but she said she wasn’t too concerned about an attack on Annapolis.
“The greatest threat would be the Naval Academy, but I still feel good that all my kids are with me,” she said.
Her son was upset.
“Everybody is in a state of shock,” said Brendan Dowd, a senior high school student at St. Mary’s. “It’s just crazy.”
They had some reason to be concerned: The nearby State House in Annapolis was among a list of possible terrorist targets in the area, Glendening confirmed. The building was evacuated and the surrounding area was cordoned off.
In Montgomery County, schools closed one and a half hours early and to use caution while still in session.
“We are urging all our school administrators to use their judgment about outdoor recess and other activities,” said Kate Harrison. “Most of our principals have expressed that they would like to keep students inside.”
Carroll County schools closed two hours early Tuesday after parents and students were notified.
“We closed early out of respect and honor for the people who were killed or injured and the families that were affected by this horrible tragedy,” said Charles Ecker, Carroll County Public Schools superintendent.
Schools also closed early in Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Howard, Harford and Baltimore counties. Charles and Frederick County schools remained open.
– 30 – CNS 09-11-01