Wicomico Schools To Begin Publishing Positive Cases Next Week

SALISBURY – Information on COVID-19 cases and outbreaks within school buildings will be posted on Wicomico County’s school system website beginning this week.

In a meeting of the school board Tuesday, Superintendent Donna Hanlin announced the school system would begin posting two dashboards – one for confirmed COVID cases in each of Wicomico County’s public schools and another for reported school outbreaks – on its website this week.

“The good news is in Wicomico County right now we do not have any schools with outbreaks,” she told the board. “But we do have schools where cases have been reported, and then those individuals are quarantined. There’s not many, but there are some.”

Last week, the Maryland Department of Health began reporting school outbreaks across the state on its coronavirus website. Hanlin told the public this week that information will be linked on the Wicomico County Board of Education webpage.

“They are now listing across the state schools that have outbreaks,” she said. “I want to emphasize that an outbreak is when you have two or more cases – positive, confirmed cases – that are epi-linked, which means they are cases that are connected by contact tracing.”

Hanlin added that the school system will also begin listing its positive COVID-19 cases by school building.

“What we are also going to be doing is on our website we will be listing, by school, the number of positive adult and student cases,” she said. “That should be coming sometime before the end of the week.”

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases in Maryland, Hanlin said the school system remains diligent in assessing daily health metrics, including the county’s positivity rate and new case rate.

“You can see it is safe for us to be in limited, in-person programs,” she said. “So I believe our safe Return to School plan is exactly where we need to be. We will continue to assess. We look at these metrics every day, and we look at what’s happening in our schools in terms of any positive cases reported.”

In October, 68% of prekindergarten students and 53% of kindergarten students returned to school buildings as part of Wicomico County’s Return to School action plan. And this week, 53% of first-grade students and 48% of second-grade students joined for in-person instruction under the hybrid model.

Hanlin noted that students in grades 3-5 who choose to return to the classroom will do so on Nov. 30 if health metrics allow. As of now, middle school students are set to return in a hybrid fashion on Jan. 4, with high school students following on Feb. 1.

“We are doing the best we can to bring families back in the same cohort. In other words, on Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday,” she said. “We understand that helps families. But it also helps with physical distancing on buses and allows us, when families come together to school, to seat more students on buses at the same time.”

Hanlin said the school system remains diligent in reminding students and staff to wear a mask, wash their hands and maintain at least six feet of physical distancing. She also encouraged parents to consult the school system’s recovery plan, which is posted at www.wcboe.org.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.