Announced on august 27th: Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) Announces Change to Face Covering Protocol
Good evening, Worcester families,
Since the very beginning of this pandemic, our leaders here in Worcester County Public Schools have been dedicated to making sure our students have the best educational opportunities we can provide. Because of this commitment, we have made every effort to make safe, consistent, in person learning a reality for our students.
Through hard work and meticulous planning, Worcester was one of very few school systems throughout the State last year, who relentlessly pursued keeping our classrooms open for our students, and we were largely successful. We learned a lot from this past year’s success, and we are still learning as this pandemic continues to evolve.
Now, last week we released our Responsible Return 2.0 plan, a comprehensive document that details our plans to safely welcome students back into our buildings in September. Within that document, we reaffirmed our adoption of the CDC’s guidance as it is currently written, with highly recommending universal masking in our schools, and per a federal order, everyone on our school buses wearing a face covering.
Yesterday, the Maryland State Board of Education held a special meeting, where they voted to pass an emergency regulation requiring universal masking in all Maryland schools. In light of this vote, beginning on Monday, August 30, all students and staff – regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear face coverings in our school buildings.
I want to take a moment tonight to explain exactly why universal masking is a critical piece to keeping in-person learning available to all students.
Last year, the rules for quarantining meant that if a student was within six-feet of a student who tested positive for a cumulative period of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, regardless of whether they were wearing a mask or not, that student was sent home for 10-14 days. As we saw last year, these rules had a significant impact on in-person learning for many students.
While these same rules remain in place for adults, the CDC has now issued an exception for school-aged students that is designed to protect our in-person learning environments. Under this exception, if students are masked, any student who is 3 feet or more from a student with COVID-19 will not be required to quarantine unless they are symptomatic.
As you can imagine, this is great news for our students, for us as educators, and for our families, who certainly don’t want to experience a disruption to their child’s education and attendance, but also to those carefully crafted schedules that so many of our families rely on.
So, now I am asking for your partnership. Please make sure that your child comes to school properly wearing a well-fitted face covering. I also ask for your patience and understanding. We know that the wearing of masks is a polarizing issue in our community; we have seen it the passionate letters, emails, social media comments, and more that we have received over these past months. I also know that we are all hoping to see a decline in the transmission levels in our community soon, so we can revisit this decision, but in the meantime, we need to protect every student’s ability to attend school in-person, and it will take all of us working together to make that happen.
So, as I close tonight, I want to once again thank you for teamwork with Worcester County Public Schools. We live, work, and learn in the greatest place in America because of you. And may God bless you, your family, and may God bless Worcester County Public Schools.
Also of note this morning:
Dorchester County Public Schools provided this update on August 27th: “An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community”. Noted in that update:
Last week, at the Dorchester County Board of Education meeting, I announced that we would begin the new school year with a strong recommendation that students and staff wear masks within our buildings, but still optional for staff and students. However, yesterday the Maryland State Board of Education took this a step further and voted to mandate the wearing of masks by students, staff, and everyone inside a school in the state of Maryland. Dorchester County Public Schools must abide by this mandate. While I am extremely optimistic about in-person learning, one of the key pieces to make this happen is to be safe and consistent with as few interruptions to our learning experience as possible.