Lower Quarantine Times Help Boost Staffing, Attendance For Schools
DELMARVA- School districts across Delmarva are reporting an increase in staffing and attendance after the shift to a 5 day quarantine in response to testing positive or being exposed to someone positive for Covid19.
“There is no question it is helping us with our staffing,” said Dorchester County Superintendent David Bromwell. Bromwell tells us staffing is one of the key factors districts consider when making a pivot to online, hybrid, or fully in-person classes.
“Whether we close a classroom, a whole grade level or close a school it all depends on staffing,” he said.
Bromwell tells us the more staff they have the lower the risk of shifting to online learning becomes, and less time out for teachers means a more consistent level of staffing throughout the week. He tells us he wants parents to know it’s not just teachers, the looser requirement means all employees crucial to running a school are spending less time away from it.
“We have school counselors, and we have people personnel workers that are amongst all different grade levels and if they are positive and out it creates all kinds of strains on the school,” he said.
He tells us despite concerns from health officials over the revised CDC guidance his school has not seen an increase in covid with the shorter quarantines.
“We have seen it has lowered our numbers between the quarantines and covid positive that are coming to school,” he said. He tells us it can be difficult for largely rural school districts like his to pivot between online and in-person classes, as internet infrastructure can be costly to run for districts as well as taking several days to come online. He tells us his district is all in with keeping classes in person with as many staff as possible.
“If it can be done in person that is how we want it and these [new CDC guidelines] help us with the staffing absolutely,” he said.
Worcester County Assistant Superintendent Annette Wallace tells us, less time out means less accumulated makeup work as well. She says quarantines for students and teachers don’t line up, leading to large variation in where students in a given class may be in their learning.
“When you are out and then your kids are out at all different times the makeup work is just piling up, it can be very hard to pick up and challenging so shortening those times does cut that down,” Wallace said.
Up to 20 percent of students were out as a result of the 10 day quarantine times in Worcester County according to Wallace.
“Usually we have parents take kids for a 5-day vacation and that can have a typical one letter grade drop in terms of skill that students work for a whole semester to come back from and this was double that and for many kids in the district,” she said.
She says teachers are focused on getting kids back up to speed and getting them back to grade level. She says with teachers playing catch-up every day is important.
“I think we are making up on lost time, we certainly lost time when we went virtual and it wasn’t the best situation for students and teachers it was hard but we are managing,” she said.
She tells is one bad year of education can often take as many as 3 to compensate for it, and she hopes within the next two years with more steady staff and attendance, students will be back to their pre-pandemic academic level goals.