SNOW HILL – Worcester County Public Schools will continue distance learning until Jan. 4.
Though Worcester County’s COVID-19 rates are currently trending in the right direction, officials last week extended the distance learning that was already in place another month. At the time, rates had increased to the level that worried officials.
“As we have monitored the metrics around community transmission throughout this week, we are not seeing any indications of progress toward a significant decline or stabilization in these metrics,” Superintendent Lou Taylor said last Thursday. “We have also consulted with our local health officials regarding current projections of spikes related to the upcoming holiday seasons. In light of this information, we have made the difficult decision to remain in Stage One – with all students engaged in distance learning – until January 4.”
This week, Worcester County’s daily positive percentage has been trending down since reaching 7% on Nov. 16. As of Wednesday, the county’s positive test rate was 4.19% (statewide 6.77%), down from 4.33% Tuesday. As for the seven-day moving average case rate per 100,000, Worcester County’s had dropped to 13.12 Wednesday.
When schools initially returned to distance learning on Nov. 16, Taylor cited the fact that the county was at a 6.6% positivity rate and 18.3 cases per 100,000 people. Those figures were above the metrics recommended for a re-examination of the school system’s Responsible Return model. In his Nov. 19 announcement, Taylor said he hoped schools could reopen Jan. 4.
“This will mean that once again we will begin phasing in our students in small targeted groups in waves, much like what we did earlier this fall,” he said. “However, as we continue to adjust our plans and enhance our safety protocols, we want to communicate that the lists of students invited back for each wave may change… Our schools are hard at work identifying students for the upcoming waves, and like before, they will be contacting families individually to invite students back to the classroom.”
Transportation changes will occur too.
“Our transportation department is working closely with schools on some changes in this area, but we want to let all of our families know well in advance that as your child is invited back to the classroom, bus transportation may not be available,” he said. “I know this is a lot of information to process, and we are heartbroken at the thought of not having students in our buildings over the next several weeks, but keeping our school system community healthy and safe has to be our collective priority.”