Juniors, seniors learning in-person back in class Nov. 2

Schools that started taking in students Oct. 5 complete phase-in with upper classmen

Crisfield-Somerset County Times  

WESTOVER — Juniors and seniors not attending the technical high school who are returning to in-person learning will be in class starting Monday, Nov. 2.

They represent the last group of students to populate school buildings which will be on average 53% full as 47% of all students across the county opted to learn from home through the end of the semester.

After four weeks of virtual learning for all students the first grades invited to come back on Oct. 5 were pre-K through 2, grades 6 and 8, together with special education, English language learners in grades 3-12, and all students without home internet.

On Oct. 19 doors opened for grades 3-5, 7, 9-10 and technical high school students.  That included some juniors and seniors but all of the 11th and 12th graders who wanted to be back in school return Monday.

On Smith Island 71% of the students came back to the classroom, with Woodson and Deal Island elementary schools tied at 66%. Some 65% of Crisfield Academy and High School students are or will be attending as well.

In the upper end of the county the numbers fall off, with 55% attending Princess Anne Elementary, 49% attending Somerset Intermediate, 41% at Greenwood Elementary and 40% returning to Washington Academy and High School.

According to Victoria Miele, public relations specialist, most grades are returning in the 49% to 50% range, with 7th and 8th graders at 43% and 40%, respectively.

The COVID-19 Recovery Plan, posted on the school board’s website, has been amended seven times and is nearly 200 pages in length, she said.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Gaddis said the numbers now work when it comes to social distancing, but spacing may have to be addressed especially if 75% of students want to return in the second semester which starts in February.

“We have to make sure we still follow CDC guidelines with the 6 ft., so we’ll have to use some non-traditional spaces potentially,” he said. “So the plan will continue to grow and change,” with a hope that flu will not become an additional problem.

He said he will also be watching the positivity rate of the coronavirus — with a rapid testing protocol coming later this year.

Deputy Superintendent Tom Davis said grades pre-K and kindergarten are using iPads and the remaining grades will be or are using some form of laptop. Before technology arrived learning packets were used. If internet is not available at home students not attending school are brought to school with their devices to connect to the internet so completed work is downloaded and new lessons are uploaded.

Mr. Davis said there is also a grant-funded after-school tutoring program with 129 students taking part in-person and 78 online only.