Teachers and parents concerned about updates to reopening plans, COVID-19 notification system in Worcester County
WORCESTER COUNTY, Md. – Some parents and teachers in Worcester County Public Schools are raising concerns about transparency and what they say is a lack of planning when it comes to getting students back to school. Superintendent Louis Taylor says that parents will soon have to make a decision on whether they’ll be sending their kids back for in person learning or staying home. “The only reason we’re asking families to make a decision is so that we know exactly what space we will need and how we can accommodate those kids that want to come back to our schools,” said Supt. Taylor.
Supt. Taylor says that children who stay virtual will have reduced synchronous learning time. He adds that while this is not ideal, it’s the best solution given the situation that everyone is in. “It’s about providing options for folks. We’ve taken very seriously that every learning situation in every home is not the same,” said Supt. Taylor.
In a letter sent to WCPS families, Supt. Taylor says that the rest of the students will be returning for in person learning on November 16th. He says that the deadline for families to decide if they’ll send their children back varies by school. “In some of our schools, November the 9th we will be able to accommodate those kids who want to come back. It may be later in November with a couple of our schools based on the number who want to come back,” said Supt. Taylor
But parents say making that decision leaves them weighing their child’s safety and their quality of education. “I felt like I was being forced into a decision to have to send them back in order for them to get the same education that the kids who are going back are getting. They’re already not getting as much synchronous time,” said WCPS parent Katie Warfield.
On top of all this, some are expressing concern about the lack of communication from the school district when it comes to possible COVID-19 exposure. One WCPS teacher who asked to stay anonymous tells 47ABC quote “There’s very little transparency when students are sent home or have potential illnesses. They don’t really tell us unless they have to tell us. A student could test positive in another part of the building and we would never know.”
The district says that they’re sending home any staff or students that display any kind of symptoms that could point to COVID-19. But they’re not necessarily notifying an entire school if this happens. “We do not plan to notify broadly because we want to balance peoples’ right to know and also the individual’s personal privacy. It’s just natural that people want to know who’s sick,” said Mental Health Coordinator for WCPS Lauren Williams.