Worcester Schools Cancel Final Exams; Graduation Committee Being Formed

Worcester Schools Cancel Final Exams; Graduation Committee Being Formed
File photo of Stephen Decatur Middle School in Berlin

NEWARK –  School system officials agreed this week to waive final exam requirements as a result of the state-mandated school closure associated with COVID-19.

The Worcester County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to cancel final exams for semester two and year-long courses for the current school year.

“We have determined it is not in our students’ best interest for final exams to be administered,” said Annette Wallace, the school system’s chief operating officer and academic officer for grades 9-12. “These exams were created with the mindset that our students who face the most challenges would be provided supports prior to the exam and during the exam in an equitable way.”

Wallace said that because of the ongoing school closure, which is set to remain in place at least through May 15, and the continuity of learning initiatives currently underway instead, Worcester County Public Schools administrators recommended waiving final exams.

“This recommendation also falls in line with the state’s application for a waiver for state assessments and ESSA requirements for the current school year,” she said.

Wallace said she’d keep the school board updated on the state’s waiver requests. Those requests would ensure waivers for assessments associated with Maryland’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as well as service learning requirements.

Superintendent Lou Taylor said that with the state’s recent extension of the school closure that’s been in place since mid-March educators were prepared to continue their digital learning efforts.

“We are staying the course,” he said.

Taylor said the school system was ensuring that students’ needs were met on various levels. Thousands of meals are being provided each week at feeding sites throughout the county while remote counseling is being offered to address mental health concerns. Teachers, meanwhile, are using technology to engage in virtual learning with their students.

Taylor praised educators for their willingness to adapt.

“I think it’s important we all recognize the challenges of the times we’re in,” he said.

He acknowledged concerns regarding senior graduations set to take place toward the end of the school year. He said he’d release more information in a message to the community Tuesday night.

“I will announce formation of a graduation committee to discuss plans for commencement,” he said.

Taylor thanked community members for their support and encouragement as educators worked to ensure learning continued as social distancing rules to stop the spread of coronavirus remained in place.

“It’s not over,” he said. “We still need to make sure we’re being as safe as we can.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.