Dorchester County outlines school plans including COVID-19 testing, online dashboard
DORCHESTER CO., Md. – Dorchester County educators and health officials are sharing details about how they plan to move forward after the county saw a major spike in positive COVID-19 cases.
“We’re all disappointed. It’s kind of like a punch in the gut,” says Dorchester County Superintendent Dave Bromwell.
Dorchester County officials say last week’s decision to move school completely online was not an easy one. “I want to emphasize that we did it because of community transmission, what was happening here, not because the schools had an issue,” says Roger Harrell, the health officer for Dorchester County.
During Thursday’s special board of education meeting, they shared details about how they’re planning to move forward. Their goal is to start bringing staff back November 9th. “Let’s get our staff back in the buildings and then if that’s done safely and we’re comfortable there, then that following week which is November 16th we would probably get into our special groups,” says Superintendent Bromwell.
In the meantime, the health department is going to help them conduct free COVID-19 tests on school property during the second and third weeks of November. “Even if it’s just at a level to relieve anxiety before staff and students renter the building,” says Superintendent Bromwell.
The county’s school system is also preparing to launch an online COVID-19 dashboard. “We just feel it’s a way to be transparent so parents know if I send my child to a certain elementary school, have there been any positive cases there,” says Superintendent Bromwell.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Dave Bromwell tells 47 ABC he feels confident in the choices they have made and continue to make. “I’ll take the darts for the decisions made as long as we truly feel we are doing something that’s in the best interest of the kids and staff when it comes to safety first.”
All counties in Maryland are required to submit a new plan by the end of December to the State Department of Education. That plan must outline how they’ll reach a designated number of synchronous learning hours for students and staff.
Dorchester County health officials believe COVID fatigue is happening and say many are letting their guard down, leading to an increase in cases. They’re reminding people to continue wearing masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands frequently.
They’re also urging people to cooperate with contact tracers because that can help determine if there is community spread or if large events happening causing spread.