Worcester County Public Schools will remain in all-virtual instruction into early 2021.
Schools have been conducting remote learning exclusively this week, and were hoping to reopen for in-person instruction after Thanksgiving. Superintendent Lou Taylor said Thursday that COVID metrics and rates of community transmission indicate that it’s safest to keep students learning remotely until January 4th.
The plan now is to start phasing in students in small targeted groups for in-person instruction, similar to what happened earlier this fall. Bus transportation scenarios may be affected as well. Worcester County Schools plans to update the school community as the new year gets closer.
Worcester County Schools Superintendent Lou Taylor posted this message Thursday:
Good afternoon, Worcester families,
First, I want to apologize for sending this message at an unusual time; however, as we have promised to you, we are reaching out as quickly as possible to communicate an important decision that we have made.
As you know, on Sunday, we made the very difficult decision to go back to Stage One of our Responsible Return model, which meant all schools transitioned back to distance learning. When we communicated with you at that time, I emphasized the importance of keeping a close eye on our metrics.
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. 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.
It is our hope to see our community metrics level or decrease following those projected holiday spikes, and that we can begin with a restart of the Stage Two return of students on January 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.
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. This means that if your child was originally in the first wave of students’ return on September 28, they may not necessarily be in the first wave returning on January 4. 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.
Another integral part of a safe Return is making some adjustments to our transportation protocols. 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.
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.
So as we continue to make these difficult decisions, I ask you all once again to please help us. Please avoid gatherings during the upcoming holiday seasons. Please wear your face masks and keep physical distance between yourself and others, keep washing those hands and sanitizing, and as always, encourage those around you to do the same. You are truly the key to our being able to open for in-person learning, so again, please do your part, so we can begin welcoming our students back to school as soon as we safely can.
Take care of each other, and may God Bless you all.
Have a good afternoon,
Superintendent of Schools