SALISBURY – Wicomico County Schools Superintendent Dr. Donna Hanlin said officials continue to monitor staffing shortages.
On Tuesday, Hanlin presented the Wicomico County Board of Education with an update on COVID-19 cases and staffing challenges within the school system.
“I want to tell you what our current thinking is and what our current planning is,” she said. “As I’ve been saying all year, we are going to stay the course. We are going to do everything possible, and we are committed to keeping our schools open.”
While she noted the school system is not currently seeing COVID spread within school buildings, it is reporting several staff illnesses and staff vacancies.
“Right now, we are concerned enough that we may need to close a school for those reasons, but we’re also watching that very carefully,” she said. “Dr. Briggs and I both get a report every day that shows us the percentage of staff who are out in any given building because that is a safety concern. We cannot operate a building if there are a certain number staff and support staff, not just teachers.”
Hanlin highlighted recent staffing shortages at Delmar High School, which closed school for half the day Monday for lacking the necessary support staff. She said the school system will be communicating to teachers and families the importance of bringing laptops, activities and resources home each night in the event a school must go to virtual learning.
“We are having to watch all areas of our organization in terms of employee groups to ensure that we can continue to run our schools safely,” she said. “Our hope is to be able to do that and to not close a classroom or school. We will not close the school system unless we are mandated to do so.”
Hanlin added that should a classroom or school move to virtual learning, a bulk of the learning would be asynchronous. She noted, however, that the goal continues to be in-person learning.
“We do know that is the best possible way to instruct students, for the vast majority of our students,” she said.