On Monday, September 14, 2020, the Chief of Staff was notified of an employee at George Washington Carver Elementary School (GWCES) who tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of participating in a non-school related social event outside of St. Mary’s County. Through the process of contact tracing, and in coordination with the St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMCHD), several employees at multiple sites who attended the event and others considered close contacts were placed under quarantine and sent for testing. Testing revealed that additional school system employees who participated in the social event were positive for COVID-19. As a result, GWCES will be closed for all staff through Friday, September 18, 2020. GWCES teachers will continue to provide instruction through the Schoology platform during this time.
Schoology is the online learning platform powering our online return to school this 2020-2021 school year.
Schoology provides students with personalized learning experiences. It allows students to keep resources and school materials available to access online, at any time. It also provides students with the opportunity to engage in their classes no matter where their learning is taking place. You can learn more about Schoology on our Schoology Google site.
Keeping the safety of our staff and students at the center of all our decisions we will be revising our student return date and will remain in virtual learning through the end of the 1st Quarter for the majority of our students.
Throughout Summer 2020, St. Mary’s County Public Schools worked with stakeholders - parents, students, staff, and community members - to develop its recovery plan for the Fall 2020 Safe Return to School.
The planning process addressed key questions:
How did we bring closure to the 2019-2020 school year and identify needs moving forward?
How will we rethink delivery models for instruction, programs, and student services?
How will we adapt and institute procedures for a safe return to school?
These reflective questions encourage us to learn from the experiences of the spring closure, with a focus on moving forward in planning for a safe and productive instructional program for our students. The plan is a product of a continued review of data and current health conditions, as well as ongoing stakeholder input. Our work is examined through the lens of equity and excellence and ensures the health and safety of our students and staff.
Throughout the recovery planning process, St. Mary's County Public Schools has held a number of public information sessions, including Town Hall and Board of Education presentations.
Update from Superintendant
On Wednesday, September 23, 2020, the superintendent of schools discussed the many factors that were taken into consideration when deciding to "hit pause" on the return of students to the classrooms as well as safety protocols in place when students return.
LEONARDTOWN, MD – St. Mary’s County Public Schools will host a virtual town hall on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the return to school in Fall 2020. Dr. J. Scott Smith, Superintendent, will share information with the community on the safe return to school beginning September 21, 2020, and what that will look like for students returning this fall.
Town Hall - September 2, 2020
St. Mary’s County Public Schools will host a virtual town hall on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the return to school in Fall 2020. Dr. J. Scott Smith, Superintendent, will share information with the community on the first week of school, to include topics such as: COVID-19 Guidance for Maryland Schools, getting connected with technology resources, and Special Education.
On Wednesday, August 19, 2020, 4:00 pm, St. Mary’s County Public Schools hosted a virtual town hall meeting that discussed back to School 2020 plans to include topics such as: Daily Student Schedules, Technology Update, Materials Distribution, and Notification and Contact Tracing Protocols.
On Wednesday, August 12, 2020, the Board of Education for St. Mary's County Public Schools met to discuss a number of topics including the safe return to school and the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
On Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 4:00 pm, St. Mary’s County Public Schools hosted a virtual town hall meeting that continued addressing the requirements of the Maryland Recovery Plan for Education and planning the safe return of students and staff to schools for the 2020-2021 school year.
On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, 4:00 pm, St. Mary’s County Public Schools hosted a virtual town hall meeting that continued addressing the requirements of the Maryland Recovery Plan for Education and planning the safe return of students and staff to schools for the 2020-2021 school year.
On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, 4:00 pm, St. Mary’s County Public Schools hosted a virtual town hall meeting addressing the requirements of the Maryland Recovery Plan for Education and planning the safe return of students and staff to schools for the 2020-2021 school year.
St. Mary's County Public Schools will be working throughout the summer with stakeholder groups to develop its plan for the 2020-2021 school year. This plan will focus on addressing how the school system will:
Recovery: How will we bring closure to the 2019-2020 school year and identify needs moving forward?
Redesign: How will we rethink delivery models for instruction, programs, and student services?
Return: How will we adapt and institute procedures for a safe return to school?
MSDE Recovery Plan
The Maryland State Department of Education introduced the K-12 Decision Matrix on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, to the MSDE State Board of Education. This process outlines 3 Steps to reopening schools. In working through this decision-making process, school systems must follow the guidance outlined in Maryland Together: Maryland's Recovery Plan for Education (MSDE, revised on June 23, 2020). This plan gives each school system the discretion to make decisions to reopen and determine schedules, calendar, and delivery of instruction.
As part of the Maryland Together plan, MSDE has provided a K-12 Decision Matrix, that outlines direction to school systems for the opening of schools as it aligns with the Governor's Roadmap to Recovery. This Decision Matrix outlines three steps:
STEP ONE: The Governor’s Office, in coordination with members of the coronavirus recovery team and experts at the Maryland Department of Health, monitor key health metrics and identify the appropriate stage within Maryland’s Roadmap to Recovery. The State Superintendent of Schools, in consultation with the State Board of Education, subsequently determines the operational status of schools within each stage.
In Step One, the impact on school systems is as follows:
When the State is in Stage 1: All school activities are to be conducted online and through distance learning platforms.
When the State is in Stage 2: Some in-person school activities may commence, in accordance with the Governor’s gating and social distancing measures.
When the State is in Stage 3: In-person school activities may fully resume, and schools can begin normal operations.
STEP TWO: When the State is in Stage 2, each local school system must meet the Requirements for Opening Schools as outlined in the Maryland Together: Maryland’s Recovery Plan for Education.
All decisions prior to step three can be reevaluated depending on emerging data and trends at the State level
STEP THREE: Local school systems make determinations regarding which groups of students and staff will be able to re-enter buildings. Specific schedules, calendar modifications, and delivery of instruction are at the discretion of the local school system. School systems can be more restrictive than the requirements outlined in the State Recovery Plan, and the health and safety measures outlined by the Governor and MDH depending on conditions in their locality.
Using the Maryland Together roadmap, St. Mary's County Public Schools will develop its Fall 2020 Safe Return to School plan based on four pillars: Instruction/Teaching & Learning, Student Services, Supporting Services, and Organizational and System Support.
The foundation of these pillars is the assurance of three key elements that cross each pillar's planning elements:
Equity: Assuring equity has been addressed as a component piece of each planning element.
Staff Development: Providing ongoing support for staff in the transition to new processes.
Stakeholder Input: Providing multiple opportunities for stakeholders (students, staff, families) to provide input throughout the planning process.
Pillar 1 Instruction - Teaching & Learning
Addressing learning gaps and developing a plan for success and recovery
Ensuring the alignment of curriculum and instruction to State standards
Providing ongoing professional development for staff
Developing plans for the continuation of student programs
Pillar 2 Student Services
Developing a system for monitoring attendance in blended and online environments, where needed
Ensuring Special Education/504/ADA support for students
Providing counseling and mental health services
Coordinating with the Health Department for safe practices
Pillar 3 Supporting Services
Ensuring clean and healthy environments
Providing ongoing food and nutrition services
Developing multiple transportation plans
Developing plans for the deployment of instructional technology
Developing plans for athletics and student performance groups
Pillar 4 Organization and System Support
Providing ongoing communications and messaging
Creating and healthy environments
Developing multiple models for scheduling
Developing plans for substitute and staffing support