Dorchester County students, staff, parents, community:
In more ordinary times, the end of our second week of the new school year might seem a little early for a review and assessment, but these are not ordinary times for the world we presently live in. With so much at stake - specifically in-person learning for our students - the Executive Team and I have been reviewing what is happening in our schools daily, and I want to share some thoughts.
During the weeks leading up to the start of the school year, Dorchester County has seen a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, so it is not surprising that what is happening in the community is reflected in our school population as school began on Aug. 30. Our challenge as a school system is to minimize the risk to our students and staff during the entire duration that they are in our care. Masks are a crucial part of this, and we have found that the great majority are compliant, with occasional reminders.
We have asked schools to fine-tune practices around social distancing and for staff to remain vigilant in helping others maintain a three-foot distance. Our custodial staff, augmented by outside professional cleaning services, continue to work diligently to keep our facilities, particularly high-touch areas, sanitary. Our goals are not only to keep everyone healthy but also to keep as many students and staff in school as possible, to keep buildings open for teaching and learning. We know that most of our students learn better in-person and want to be in the classroom; these first two weeks of the school year have demonstrated the enormity of the challenge still facing us to keep classrooms open for our students.
How do we do this? Everyone needs to give a little to create an environment to bring the incidence of COVID in Dorchester County down. If you have been considering a vaccine for you and your family, please research all the different opportunities for them and make the best decision for your family. No doubt, masks can be inconvenient and sometimes a little uncomfortable. But science has shown they help prevent viral spread, so put that mask on when you are out and about. Everyone has choices, and I am asking you to make the choices that will help us keep our schools open for our youngsters this school year.
Dorchester County Public Schools (DCPS) is adding another layer to our prevention strategies to continue to do all we can to keep our students safe and in school. We will be sending out additional information to our parents and students about our COVID screening program for unvaccinated individuals which will begin very soon.
As long as community spread of COVID is high, in-person learning is at risk. But the good news is we as a community have the knowledge and the tools to keep our school buildings open and to keep our students in classrooms with their teachers, growing academically, socially, and emotionally. I’m asking for your support. Let’s pull together as a community, keep our neighbors safe, and keep our students in the classroom.
Thank you and stay safe,