The Board conducted a special meeting tonight for the purpose of discussing the current COVID situation as it relates to schools in Caroline County. Superintendent Patty Saelens and Caroline County Health Officer Roger Harrell provided information on current practices and how multiple points of data impact the decision to close a school or the school system.
Dr. Saelens explained that assessing data in consultation with Mr. Harrell is a daily occurrence in order to make accurate and timely decisions as needed (see Assessing the Data below). She shared that going forward and while the metrics remain high, staff will be instructed to leave the building each day with materials necessary to conduct instruction remotely. Dr. Saelens added that this should not be viewed as cause for alarm but rather a proactive, precautionary measure.
Both Mr. Harrell and Dr. Saelens stressed the community’s responsibility in helping to keep schools open, and asked that everyone remain vigilant in taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (see Helping Our Community below).
Assessing the Data
The decision to close a school or school systems ultimately rests with CCPS. However, we rely heavily on the guidance and recommendations of the Caroline County Health Department and the Maryland Department of Health.
All health officers across Maryland must consider data points when closing or recommending closures throughout their county. Those factors include the following (which are set forth by the Governor and in the MSDE Recovery Plan).
- A positivity rate which includes 15 positive cases per 100K or greater
- A positivity rate of the county of 5% or higher
- An upward trend of data over a 7-day period
In combination to those data points, the health officer also considers the following:
- Is there a concentration within the data points?
- Was there a particular event or connection between cases?
- What does the contact tracing tell us?
- Are positive cases evenly distributed throughout the county?
In addition, the state guidance requires each Health Officer, in collaboration with school officials, to reassess if the case rate increases 2.0 per 100K or the positivity rate increases 1.5 % in a two week period.
Helping Our Community
Please continue to be vigilant and follow best practices to keep our community safe. Remember that actions outside of the school impact our ability to provide in-person learning. Think carefully about socializing with people other than those you live with. Take care of yourself and others, as we each play a role in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
We are about to embark upon the holiday season which is typically a social time for many of us. Be mindful of your own social gatherings and the need to adhere to the health and safety guidelines set by the CDC and the Caroline County Health Department. Reconsider some of your family’s activities in light of the locally increasing positivity rate.
- Be alert for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Adhere to the daily screening for staff and students.
- Stay home when you are sick; keep sick children at home.
- Maintain at least six feet of distance between non-household members.
- Wear a mask when maintaining distance is not possible.
- Do not gather in groups inside and limit groups outside.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.
- Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air.
- As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.