(March 20, 2020) The Maryland State Department of Education last Thursday, ordered all schools closed from Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27 to limit the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus.
During a Worcester County Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Superintendent Lou Taylor said that the board is navigating uncharted waters.
“This team, under my leadership, has participated in many conference calls with our state superintendent of schools, various agencies related to the Maryland State Department of Education, including monitoring as many, if not all, our governor press conferences,” Taylor said.
Schools were directed to use the two-week period to disinfect facilities. Buses will also be cleaned.
“We’re giving a very good cleaning and sanitizing,” Taylor said. “They have been locked down to anyone entering unless in an emergency situation, so that we feel very comfortable with the cleanliness of our schools at this time.”
He added that the board has met with principals, student coordinators and supervisors to discuss student learning and daily meal needs.
Steve Price, assistant superintendent, said that the board is working to connect students with necessary programs.
“In an effort to continue to maintain communication with our students and their families, we have also established a procedure to call in school counselors, beginning today,” Price said. This will make counselors available to students who may be in crisis, he said.
Debra Stevens, from the Worcester County Health Department, said she has been working with the school board as the coronavirus situation changes hourly.
“I would suggest that the schools plan for a longer-term closure, beyond [this point,]” Stevens said.
Taylor said he is still waiting on directions from the state superintendent on how to address spring and summer break. Worcester is scheduled to have an early dismissal for students on April 3 and be closed April 6 for a professional day, April 7-10 for spring break and April 13 for Easter Monday.
The last day of school is scheduled for June 16, or June 23 with five make-up days.
Waivers from the state could be an option, according to Carrie Sterrs, coordinator of public relations and special programs for Worcester schools.
“We know that this closure is an inconvenience, but this is a matter of public health and safety, which are our top priorities as a school system,” Sterrs said. “We are asking our families for their patience and understanding as we navigate this ever-evolving situation.”
Taylor said it was as important as ever for the board of education to keep communication lines open.
“Together, we’re going to get through this,” Taylor said. “Together, we’re going to be a stronger school system than we’ve ever been.”