John Lee | WYPR

John Lee

Reporter, Baltimore County

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County.

John has worked in news for more than 20 years. He has been a news director, assistant news director, managing editor, assignment editor and reporter at various radio and television news stations. He’s won numerous awards from The Associated Press, including best news operation, best continuing news story, and best news series.

Before coming to WYPR, John spent more than a decade as a stay-at-home dad. During that time he raised a disabled child. He also listened to WYPR every day thinking, “I’d like to work there.”

In 2013, John did just that. He started as “the world’s oldest intern."

John has both a master’s degree in media management and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Associated Press/Jeff Chiu, File

This is a Labor Day like no other, with millions of people out of work due to the COVID-19 economy.

In Maryland, Baltimore County has had more people filing for unemployment during the pandemic than any other locality. According to the Maryland Department of Labor, from March through August, more than 93,000 people filed jobless claims in the county.

John Lee

Baltimore County will follow the state’s lead and move into Stage 3 of reopening. That means all businesses in the county, including indoor theaters and other entertainment venues can reopen with restrictions.

Krissy Venosdale // Flickr Creative Commons

The Maryland State Board of Education Tuesday approved a plan that sets the minimum number of hours students must receive live, online instruction from teachers.

The board backed off a proposal to put those requirements in place later this month, after critics said that was too soon, and would have caused confusion and chaos.

John Lee

  

It’s been more than 3 months since the House of Representative passed the $3 trillion COVID relief plan called the Heroes Act. It remains stalled in the Senate.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said there are dire budget consequences ahead for the county if the money from the Heroes Act doesn’t come through.

Flickr

Weeks after Maryland’s school systems submitted to the state plans for virtual learning this fall, the state school board is looking at a proposal for a minimum level of live, online instruction time for students.

The proposal comes as school is already under way in some parts of the state and about to begin in others.

The Associated Press

If you are an eligible voter in Maryland, you should get your application for a mail-in ballot in the mail any day now.

It marks the start of a bizarre, unprecedented election season for voters and election officials alike.

Towson University

Towson University is throwing in the towel and sending most of its students home for the remainder of the semester. Online classes will continue.

Towson President Kim Schatzel said in a letter Wednesday in announcing that residence halls will be closed that her greatest responsibility is to protect the health of everyone on campus.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County schools are being accused of failing special needs students who need their own aides, by not sending assistants into those students’ homes because of COVID-19 fears.

The school system is wrestling with the dilemma of protecting its employees while at the same time making sure those students aren’t left behind in virtual learning.

Baltimore County

The state parks in Baltimore County are seeing a crush of people looking for things to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. And because of that, officials say, the parks are being abused and traffic around them can be a nightmare.

John Lee

The Baltimore Museum of Art remains closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the BMA is making changes on its grounds and putting local artists on display on its website, so the artist and art lover can still have what the director of the BMA calls “access to joy.”

Kate Breen and her 13-year-old daughter, Tess, were trying to find joy in the BMA’s outdoor sculpture gardens.

“My daughter loves art,” Breen said. “This is the only way that we can see it right now is to see it outside.”

John Lee

Four-year colleges across the country are deciding whether it’s safe to have in-person, classroom instruction. So are community colleges.

The Community College of Baltimore County is offering some in-person classes. But before you set foot on campus to get to that class, you will have to pass a test, a screening for COVID-19.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch said he has recovered following contracting COVID-19 several weeks ago.

Branch said he considers himself blessed because his symptoms were mild. He continued working while he was self-isolating and said he now is “back to my old self.”

Seth Sawyers/flickr

Public school students in central Maryland are starting the school year with a virtual learning model.

Thursday, three school superintendents laid out what needs to happen before those students can return to the classroom in a virtual discussion that got off to a rocky start with some technical difficulties.

Baltimore County Public Schools

Baltimore County students will be doing distance learning through at least the first semester. Tuesday night the Baltimore County School Board got into the nitty gritty of what that’s going to look like. Everything from attendance, to class schedules, to conduct, to sports got an airing out.

WYPR’s John Lee listened in on the meeting and joined Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner to talk about it.

Maryland State Fair

Forget the rides, the games and the food. There will be no Maryland State Fair this year.

Fair officials announced Wednesday they have to cancel the 12-day annual event to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones

A controversial package of police reforms will be back before the Baltimore County Council next month, despite the council’s 4-3 vote Monday night to table it.

Baltimore County Police Department

The Baltimore County Council Monday night put the brakes on passing any sort of police reform legislation.

By a 4-3 vote, the council voted to table the controversial bill, proposed by Democratic Councilman Julian Jones. This issue touched off a debate between members over how the legislation was being written and whether the council was ducking its duty to vote it up or down.

John Lee

Towson is one step closer to getting free circulator buses, but at the same time COVID-19 is delaying when you will see them rumbling down York Road.

The Baltimore County Council is expected to approve Monday night accepting $1.6 million in federal grant money to pay for 12 buses.

The Associated Press

Baltimore County election officials fear they will find themselves having to play face mask police at the county’s polling places this November.

That’s only one of the headaches that likely lie ahead for the people who run our elections, the officials say.

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement from the county health department, Dr. Branch was having a mild cough and a raspy voice and so he decided to get tested at a county clinic.

Baltimore County Police Department

During a 4 hour public hearing Tuesday night, the Baltimore County Council heard debate over a controversial package to reform the county police department.

The sponsor of the legislation and the county police chief squared off over the proposed changes.

WYPR’s John Lee was listening in to last night’s public hearing and joined Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner to talk about it.

Julian Jones

The national debate over reforming how police officers do their jobs comes to Baltimore County Tuesday afternoon when the county council holds a public hearing on police reform legislation. 

Mary Rose Madden

Baltimore County Public School students will be receiving their instruction online for the first semester of the school year that begins in September.

That’s what the county school board decided Tuesday after some members sought flexibility in the draft reopening plan School Superintendent Darryl Williams presented to the board.

The Associated Press

The scramble is on statewide to find enough polling places and election judges for November.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Larry Hogan directed the Maryland Board of Elections to have every polling place in Maryland open for early voting and on Election Day.

Baltimore County Board of Elections Director Katie Brown said this is going to be the most difficult election to pull off in her three decade career.

 

Seth Sawyers/flickr

The unions that represent teachers, administrators and other school employees in Baltimore County are calling for students to begin the school year at home, doing online learning. 

The unions said Monday at a news conference that school buildings are unsafe. 

Marie McSweeney Anderson

While we can do a lot more now than we could in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are those who have decided to remain on lockdown.

They are taking a pass on seeing family and friends, as well as going to work, a restaurant, the gym, the mall and church.

They are staying in phase 1 in a phase 2 world.

John Lee

Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Darryl Williams will look into whether hate symbols like the Confederate flag should be banned in the county schools.

The Baltimore County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to order the inquiry and directed Williams to report back by January.

John Lee

Baltimore County School Superintendent Darryl Williams said Tuesday night that he is leaning towards not reopening school buildings in September. Instead, county students would pick up where they left off in the spring, with virtual learning from home.

The Baltimore County School Board Tuesday night heard from Williams and other members of his staff about what the next school year will look like.

WYPR’s John Lee monitored the meeting and discussed what happened with Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner.

Teachers Association of Baltimore County

Baltimore County teachers have a lot of questions about what the reopening of schools in September might look like.

TABCO, the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, plans to meet Thursday to draw up a list of concerns for school administrators.

J Holsey Photography


  A Maryland legislator is calling for a ban on confederate flags and other hate symbols in the Baltimore County Public Schools.

She was asked to submit the request for a ban by a Black Lives Matter group in a part of the county that is overwhelmingly white.

 

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