Superintendent Kelly Griffith presented the district’s plans for a full return to school in person to the Talbot County Board of Education at their August meeting, indicating that some decisions are still pending.
Dr. Griffith continues to confer with the Talbot County Health Department (TCHD) regularly and consider the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics in determining how to safely reopen schools. Consideration is given to the status of risk transmission rate, which is based on new case data (currently “high” for Talbot County), the number of staff already vaccinated, the percentage of vaccinated people in our local community, and established safety measures.
TCPS will also continue to implement the following mitigation strategies:
- Promote frequent hand washing
- Enhanced cleaning protocols
- Social distancing of 3 foot whenever possible
- Self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms
- Implement contact tracing and quarantining protocols
“With all data and research considered, TCPS is at this time planning for a full return to in-person learning in all schools, and is highly recommending universal masking inside all buildings,” Dr. Griffith said. “However, with three weeks until the start of school, and under the current circumstances, it is too soon to make a final decision about masking.” She further explained that the issue will be re-visited on a weekly basis, and that masks will be required for all students and staff on school buses according to the Federal mandate.
Dr. Griffith also emphasized the importance of being vaccinated and masked, citing the most recent guidance from the Talbot County Health Department regarding contact tracing. Those who are vaccinated and are identified as contacts of an individual who tests positive will not be required to quarantine unless they experience symptoms. Those who are unvaccinated and unmasked who are identified as contacts will be required to quarantine for at least 14 days.
Rapid testing for COVID-19 will be available in all schools through a partnership with Choptank Community Health and the Talbot County Health Department.
“We are so excited to see all of our children return to our school buildings,” Dr. Griffith added. “We appreciate everyone’s support and look forward to a successful school year.”