Superintendent’s Message – September 28, 2020

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Dear Families:

First of all, my thanks to each of you for the patience and flexibility you have shown as we moved through the first few weeks of the school year. I know that it is particularly difficult when firm answers are not always readily available and plans are subject to change. However, your understanding has made this challenging time manageable. Our students have been impressive as they have adjusted to either distance or in-person learning, and support from families has played a large role in their success. 

Secondly, throughout this time, we have not lost sight of the goal, which is to bring more students back into the building as safely as possible. The logistics of doing this, while continuing distance learning, are complicated. However, as was shared in a recent news post, we are implementing Phase 3 of our Recovery Plan by bringing pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students back into school buildings on October 5th, and first and second grade students on October 8th.  

Families can rest assured that as always, healthcare partners continue to be involved in all phases of planning, and the plan has been reviewed and is supported by the Caroline County health officer.

As a result of participation in a recent questionnaire and follow up by staff, much needed planning data was gathered, enabling us to share the following information: 

Schedule

Based on the number of children returning for in-person learning, we can continue a four day a week schedule (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) for all students. However, in order to provide transportation, adjustments have been made to schedules at all grade levels. 

Some families have shared concerns about the length of the school day, particularly at the elementary level. In working through bus schedules, we were able to shorten the day, without compromising instruction, and provide transportation by dividing elementary students into two separate groups. 

Revised Schedules as of October 5th: 

  • North Caroline High School – 7:40-1:10
  • Colonel Richardson High School – 7:30-1:00
  • Middle School – 7:30-1:00
  • Elementary 1 – 9:00-2:30 
    • All 1st and 2nd graders coming to school and those remaining at home
    • 4th and 5th grade students learning from home
    • 4th and 5th grade students who currently come to school:
      • Identified Special Education  4th and 5th graders
      • Identified English Learners (EL) in 4th and 5th grader 
      • 4th and 5th graders at school for connectivity 
  • Elementary 2 – 10:15-3:45
    • All pre-K and kindergarten students coming to school and those remaining at home
    • All 3rd graders learning from home
    • 3rd grade students who currently come to school:
      • Identified Special Education students in 3rd grade
      • Identified English Learners (EL) in 3rd grade
      • 3rd grade students at school for connectivity  

Your child’s school will be sharing specific class schedules later this week.  

Distance and In-Person Teaching

At this time, students will remain with their same teachers no matter the method of instruction. Simultaneously teaching distance and in-person students is both a teaching and technology challenge, and we ask again for patience and flexibility as we give students the options they need. 

Face Coverings

Students ages five (5) and over are required by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to wear a face covering. 

Meals

At this time, all students are receiving free breakfast and lunch through the US Department of Agriculture, and meals will be provided to students in the classroom. For more information, please see the School Meals news post.  

Outdoor Breaks

Elementary schools cannot conduct recess at this time. However, elementary students will be given opportunities to go outside, be active, and take off face coverings as long as they are appropriately distanced.

Illness

Families are required to perform an at-home assessment of symptoms on their child before taking them to the bus stop or school. Information will be provided by the child’s school. All staff have been and will continue to be expected to perform the same at-home assessment of symptoms. 

Quarantine Process 

If a person in the school has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19, he or she will be sent home to isolate. In addition, appropriate staff will perform internal contact tracing which may result in other students also being sent home to isolate.  The CCPS COVID-19 Response Plan is available on the website, as is more detailed information in the FAQs section.

Much more detailed information about each of these topics  is available on the Back to School webpage, including in the FAQ section that is updated regularly. 

As always, the solution for some families presents a challenge for other families. As this new schedule begins on October 5th, we remain committed to providing as much support as possible and resolving challenges when and where we can. Patience, flexibility and kindness will continue to remain our watchwords as we embark on this next phase of the school year.

Stay safe and be well – 

Patty Saelens, Superintendent