There is still no decision by the State of Delaware on the reopening of schools. Several weeks ago, Governor John Carney and DOE Secretary Susan Bunting said more on schools reopening or partially reopening would come in early August, however some guidance on where the state stands currently and what is needed for a full reopening have been discussed during the Governor’s weekly coronavirus updates. In this week’s update, the Governor again stressed that Delaware schools won’t be reopened unless it can be done safely. Delaware is currently in the same place it was a week ago – in the minimal to moderate range of community spread – but the numbers need to be lower for us to move on in our economic reopening – and the schools.
Sussex County has seen two outbreaks – the first one among the poultry workers – the second after the reopening of bars in the beach areas – which has caused the 18 to 34 year old age group to increase and nearly match the largest group of positive cases in Delaware – the 35 to 49 year olds. Governor Carney says that with respect to education there is concern for teachers and staff who are in the more vulnerable demographics – but the kids are in the lowest percentage.
In the school districts there are already plans in place when it comes to infectious diseases, but DPH Medical Director, Dr. Rick Hong says that schools can also request a “Covid Coordinator,” who would focus on communications, administrative or operational responsibilities beyond the medical, they can do so. Dr. Hong also responded to some common questions which have been asked – what happens if there’s a positive test by a staff member or student – DPH will work closely with school for an effective response – which would include contact tracing followed by recommendations based on what is learned through the case investigation. Will school need to be shut down? Dr. Hong says its very unlikely as long as infection control measures are being followed – hand hygiene, face coverings and social distancing.
Look for enforcement of the governor’s coronavirus regulations to be stepped up in August. Last month an email for business complaints was established. DPH Chief of Health Systems Protection, Jamie Mack says in July they have responded to over 1000 complaints and done over 300 on-site compliance checks statewide. He’s expecting an increased presence next month and possible some revisions to the Governor’s Executive Order to improve accountability. Compliance checks include violations of face coverings – but staff and customers, social distancing issues – including floor or counter markings, door signage, capacity violations, lack of reservations or management of incoming guests and sanitizing.
Governor Carney says testing is still strong – and while you may receive a negative test result – that doesn’t make you immune from coronavirus. Even if you aren’t feeling sick – you should know your coronavirus status and get tested – and wear your face mask. Every negative test helps to reduce the curve as well.