Superintendent of Schools Updates School Families, Staff on Adjusted Return to In-Person School Timeline (Message, Updated Return to School Action Plan)
(Dec. 8, 2020) Wicomico Superintendent of Schools Updates Staff and School Families on Adjustments to Return to In-Person School Timeline (SchoolMessenger call/email)
Good evening, Wicomico school families and staff. This is Donna Hanlin, Superintendent of Wicomico County Public Schools, with an update from today’s Board of Education meeting on our schedule for returning to school for hybrid learning. You’ll find the full message in your emailbox, with a letter attached, and on our website, www.wcboe.org.
Back in November, I reviewed the community COVID-19 health metrics guiding whether Wicomico Schools can have in-person instruction. I showed the school system’s COVID-19 dashboard of each week’s positive cases in schools, and a page showing each day’s health metrics for Wicomico County. If you haven’t looked at these pages, I urge you to visit our website and click on COVID-19 Dashboard on the left to see the information that is available.
The Maryland Department of Health and Maryland State Department of Education have set health metrics for the positivity rate and new case rate to guide when it is recommended to have students in school. For in-school instruction to be feasible, Wicomico County needs to have a 7-day average positivity rate at or below 5%, and a 7-day rolling average of new case rate per 100,000 of 15 or less.
When I reviewed the health metrics during the November 10th Board meeting, Wicomico’s positivity rate was at 4.15% and the new case rate was 17.51 – below or close to the acceptable levels. But as of today, the positivity rate is 6.93% and the new case rate is 33.23. Unfortunately, Wicomico County’s current trend in COVID-19 numbers does not allow us to continue with our plan to have hybrid learning for Prekindergarten through 8th Grade on January 4th.
With the Board of Education’s support, we now have a revised timeline for the return to school: On January 4th, all students will continue with virtual learning, with high school students beginning a full day virtual bell schedule. On January 11th, teachers of Prekindergarten to Grade 8 will be in classrooms to prepare for the transition to hybrid learning. Our plan is to have in-person hybrid learning for Prek-Grade 8 beginning the week of January 19th, if the health metrics have improved. We will update everyone around January 4th, once virtual instruction has resumed from the break and the post-holiday health metrics are known.
The Wicomico County Public School System is united in seeking your support for a safe and healthy return to in-person learning, as you’ll read in the attached letter from me, the Board of Education, and associations representing our teachers and administrators. It’s vital that every one of us follows recommended procedures to protect against COVID-19 infection. Please make sure you are doing your part to promote health and safety: Wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance, and avoid gathering or traveling for the holidays, among other measures. Thank you, and have a good evening.