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Re-opening of Dorchester County Public Schools

April 12, 2021- Important Information Regarding School Building Openings and COVID

Good morning Dorchester County,

As you know, we have been working over the last few months at bringing students back into school buildings and extending their time there gradually, and with the support of the community this approach has been successful.  COVID cases within our schools among both students and staff have remained relatively low.  The situation has remained stable enough to be able to take advantage of the CDC’s changes in school guidelines and allow us to plan to expand further this week, bringing all students whose parents have chosen in-person learning back together for four days each week.

I’m here today to tell you these plans have hit a snag.  COVID cases in Dorchester County have been climbing steadily for the past two weeks.  Over the weekend we passed the state’s case rate average and, once again, have the highest rate on the Eastern Shore, significantly higher than our neighboring counties.  And what happens in the community makes its way into our schools.

This pandemic is not over.  The fine weather this weekend brought groups of people out for activities, but too many were ignoring safety guidelines.  If families and others in the community do not continue to take precautions, particularly wearing masks, we will not be able to keep schools open.  It’s that simple. 

Over the weekend, information from the Dorchester County Health Department indicated that there is a COVID outbreak at Mace’s Lane Middle School.  Health Department contact tracers have tracked this outbreak to travel sports activities and family gatherings where COVID safety protocols were not being followed.  As a result, due to the number of positive cases and quarantines, we are having to close Mace’s Lane Middle School this week to in-person learning.  We have no control over what happens outside our school buildings, but we need to take the responsible step when it is brought into our school buildings.  This is not something we want to do, but it is necessary to stop the spread.

Furthermore, any student who is sent to school when they should be quarantining because there is a positive COVID case in their household, will not be able to return to a school building for the remainder of the school year and will need to become a virtual learner.

I am extremely frustrated and disappointed that DCPS has to take such a rigid stance involving the pandemic, but community actions are forcing us in this direction.

With all of that being said, we WILL still be moving with our scheduled increased attendance tomorrow, April 13, as planned.  All schools will be open for in-person learning as planned except for Mace’s Lane Middle School.  Our C group students will continue with their virtual learning platform.

Thank you.  Stay safe and abide by ALL CDC safety guidelines.

Link to Mr. Bromwell's LIVE video: https://fb.watch/4QcnvRysxL/

April 7, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

We are very much looking forward to having all of our in-person students back in our buildings four days a week.  We hope that this is the successful beginning of a new chapter in what has been a challenging school year for everyone as we increase the numbers of children gathering together.  My message today is whether this works or not is dependent upon you.  COVID metrics in Dorchester and neighboring counties are again creeping up; this pandemic is not over yet.  I will be straight with you: what happens next in our schools depends on what all of us do and do not do.

Until now, with numbers of children in school buildings being low, schools have not been sources of COVID spread.  Contact tracing by the Dorchester County Health Department has determined that almost all of our small number of positive student and staff cases have come from contact outside of school, usually from a family member.  Quarantine protocols, backed up with careful hygiene in our buildings, have succeeded in keeping COVID from spreading among students and staff.  However, there is evidence that people are becoming too relaxed about following these protocols.  I understand that; we are all tired of the restrictions on our lives.  But now, as we bring children back into school buildings, it is more important than ever that we continue to practice what we know will keep COVID out of our schools and allow them to remain open.  We are still following CDC guidelines for students and staff that include social distancing, wearing masks properly, and frequent handwashing. 

If your child has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID, whether through a family member or activity/sport, do not send them to school.  They need to quarantine and be tested.  We cannot allow schools to become sources of COVID spread in Dorchester County.  Working in conjunction with the Health Department, please be aware that we may have to temporarily close a school, probably on short notice, if their contact tracing determines that one or more exposed children have attended school, thus exposing others.

For the sake of our county’s children, we need to pull together and make this work as a team.

Thank you, please be safe,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

March 31, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

Spring break is just about here. I want to thank each of you for your continued hard work and dedication to DCPS and our students. For those who will have time off, I wish you a safe and restful holiday. As the weather gets warmer and outdoor activities increase, please remember to be safe and enjoy time with your family and friends.

I am grateful for all the hard work that has resulted in more than half of our students back in our buildings for in-person instruction. Despite ongoing COVID concerns, DCPS continues to see very low transmission rates within our schools as our students and staff follow layered prevention strategies.  We continue to assess student needs and work with our facilities staff to identify each school’s capacity as we safely increase the number of students in our buildings.

Please refer to our website for last week’s press release for return-to-school details for April 13, 2021 here:  http://www.dcpsmd.org/news/superintendent-s-press-release/3-24-2021.

Parents and guardians of virtual learning students now seeking transition to hybrid in-person instruction should contact the school principal to make that request. The school will review and respond to these requests on a student-by-student basis. Students may also remain all virtual for the remainder of this school year.  You must notify your school administrator by Thursday April 1st (tomorrow) if you are requesting a change.

Please be aware that having more students in school each day means we will need to increase the number of students on our school buses with the level of physical distancing that we have enforced until now may no longer be possible. We wanted parents and guardians to be aware of this as they decide whether their students will use school transportation or personal transportation.

Last night we were fortunate enough to announce our DCPS Teacher and First-Class Teacher of the Year at the Chesapeake Hyatt.  Representing our DCPS Teacher of the Year for the 2021-2022 school year will be Ms. Amy Stoops from Hurlock Elementary School and our DCPS First-Class Teacher of the Year is Mr. Nathan Turley from Choptank Elementary School.  Congratulations to all our winners and all our nominees.

I want to wish everyone the best during this break and I want to thank you for your support and patience.

Thank you, please be safe,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

March 24, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

As everyone is aware, the CDC has adjusted the social distancing parameters for elementary schools from six feet to three feet.  As a result, DCPS is adjusting our reopening plan.  The timeline for bringing more students back to our schools is as follows:

On Tuesday, April 13th the following will occur:

  • Elementary - all students, prekindergarten to 5th grade in A, B and D groups will attend school Tuesday through Friday.
  • Middle - all students, grade 6th - 8th grade in A, B and D groups will attend school Tuesday through Friday.
  • High – the present schedule will remain the same. D group students in high school will continue to attend school Tuesdays through Fridays. High school A and B group students will continue with their current in-person days.
  • C group at all levels will remain virtual.

On Tuesday, April 20th the following will occur:

  • All grades including high school will attend school four days a week. The only students not in school will be the C group who will remain virtual.

Mondays will remain asynchronous until May 3rd.  Future communication regarding students attending school on Mondays will be forthcoming.

Parents and guardians of virtual learning students now seeking transition to hybrid in-person instruction should contact the school principal to make that request. The school will review and respond to these requests on a student-by-student basis. Students may also remain all virtual for the remainder of this school year.  You must notify your school administrator by Thursday April 1st if you are requesting a change.

Please be aware that having more students in school each day means we will need to increase the number of students on our school buses, and the level of physical distancing that we have enforced until now may no longer be possible. We wanted parents and guardians to be aware of this as they decide whether their students will use school transportation or personal transportation.

It remains critical that all students and staff continue to follow all safety protocols including hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing.  Students returning to school remains contingent upon Dorchester County COVID health matrix. 

As we look to the next school year, DCPS is planning to return to normal for the 2021-2022 school year.  Please refer to the approved calendar for SY 21-22 on our website for information regarding the start dates and holidays.

Stay safe and healthy,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

March 17, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

We are now just over a year into this pandemic. DCPS continues to appreciate everyone’s support and patience as we have shifted to a hybrid model of instruction. We continue to follow recommendations and guidance from the Dorchester County Health Department.

Our goal is to continue to bring students into our buildings as safely as possible. Individual schools are constantly reviewing and reassessing the situation regarding numbers of students in the building and the all-important safety protocols. All schools make decisions based on square footage and Dorchester County Health Department guidance. When we can safely bring more students in, we will do so.

As you may have heard, the governor has lifted the travel advisory in regard to out of state travel. While the restrictions have been lifted, we strongly encourage our families and staff to continue health and safety precautions that have kept our students and staff safe.

For next week, DCPS will stay the course with our present status of our re-opening plan.

Stay safe and healthy,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

March 10, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

Like many of you, I read with interest the Governor’s lifting of some COVID restrictions in communities. As we approach the one-year anniversary of schools suddenly closing last March, I share the Governor’s and State Superintendent of Schools’ enthusiasm for reopening schools and can assure you that Dorchester County schools are constantly reassessing possibilities for extending in-person instruction. We are now evaluating the Governor’s changes and what they might mean for schools with the CDC’s continuing six-foot social distancing guidelines, as the safety of our students and staff remains Priority One. Our COVID levels, both in the schools and in the County, remain low and we do not want to create issues where there are none.

It is by maintaining a level of caution that we have had safe returns by our students and staff since the beginning of February. By continuing to follow the rules set down by the Bayside Conference, all DCPS secondary athletic teams have been able to keep to their schedule with no quarantines. We will continue to follow the guidance of the Bayside Conference for possible increases in attendance to athletic events in the near future.

On a more positive note, graduation planning has begun in earnest at each high school for the graduating class of 2021. Each high school will be announcing plans in the very near future!

Our continuing success in safely transitioning to in-person learning brought Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, to Dorchester County last Friday to visit North Dorchester Middle, North Dorchester High, and Hurlock Elementary. She was especially interested in our mitigation strategies and how we have managed to keep COVID at such a low level in our schools. We are ahead of many Maryland counties in bringing students back into the classroom, especially secondary students. NDMS and NDHS are the first secondary schools Dr. Salmon has visited since schools began re-opening, and she was impressed with the work our staff has done to maximize in-person instruction safely. Thank you everyone for the part you play in making this happen every day for our students!

One of our best tools to support keeping schools open is contact tracing. If you or someone in your household tests positive, please cooperate with the staff from the Health Department who gather this very important information. While we recognize the difficulties that come with being in quarantine, this is how we stop the spread and keep students in classrooms.

The Board of Education is opening the March meeting to in-person attendees, limiting the number at ten for now. Anyone interested in attending needs to register in advance. Registration information is on the DCPS web page under ‘Leadership’, then ‘Board of Education’. The form will open on Friday at 3:00 for registrants. The meeting will continue to be livestreamed too, as usual.

Have a great week and stay safe as we continue with our present re-opening plan.

Stay safe and healthy,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

March 3, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

We have entered our 4th week of hybrid learning, with a safe proportional number of students in buildings four days each week. The number of COVID cases among students and staff remains small, and the contact tracing conducted by the Health Department indicates no transmission through school attendance. My own observations while in school buildings is that youngsters have been doing well at adhering to safety protocols while in school buildings, with the same occasional “cover your nose” mask reminders we all need from time to time. Thank you to our custodial staff who have remained diligent with cleaning and disinfecting areas to keep everyone safe.

While we have been able to keep COVID attacks at bay, we have not been so fortunate with attacks on our system-wide internet. Virtual learning means that our system now supports over 5,500 DCPS devices, and any one of those devices can unknowingly pick up a virus or other destructive code through an app accessed by the user and spread it throughout our system. Obviously, we already have significant guards against such attacks, but the attacks over the last week were at such a high and unremitting level it could have caused critical failures to our instruction provided to students if left unchecked. We thank our partners at Bay Country Communications (BCC) and Inacom who worked with DCPS staff into the night and throughout the weekend to address the issues caused by attacks on our system from around the world. We hope that the steps we have taken in conjunction with BCC and Inacom will offer further protection; the trick is trying to stay one step ahead of those who wish to do harm to the instruction of students.

Individual schools are constantly reviewing and reassessing the situation regarding numbers of students in the building and the all-important safety protocols. Several schools have decided they are able to accommodate more children safely, allowing them to have the entire A group and the entire B group attend two days per week. While this is a short-term goal for all our schools, please be assured that it is only allowed when the increase in numbers on any given day can be managed safely.

For next week, DCPS will stay the course on with our present status of our re-opening plan.

Stay safe and healthy,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

February 24, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

Our efforts for safely bringing students back in classrooms continues, although with a few interruptions from Mother Nature. Masks can’t hide the smiles of students who are excited and happy to be back in the classroom, nor those of the teachers who are glad to be with them. A look at the faces below from Mace’s Lane, Maple, and South Dorchester tell the story.

Speaking of our teachers, I want to acknowledge and thank them for their terrific work in accommodating both virtual and in-person learners in their classrooms. It is not easy teaching two groups of students at once. This involves creative thinking and planning while delivering challenging lessons proving their daily commitment to our students.

This week has also been one of the challenges with technology especially our internet deficiencies. I can assure you that all parties are seeking answers and solutions regarding our difficulties this week. While we manage to catch most issues before they have any system-wide impact, we know the ones that “sneak” by causing much frustration for students, families, and teachers. Please know that we are doing everything we can to keep instruction progressing for both virtual and in-person learners and please excuse our occasional hiccups with technology.

Our plan for next week is to stay the course with our in-person and virtual students. We continue to review our numbers, adhering to the CDC guideline of social distancing of 6 feet to see when and if we can include more students or increase the number of days. I urge you to keep in communication with your child’s school and continue to support whatever phase of hybrid learning in which your child participates.

Stay safe and healthy,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

February 17, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good Afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

Yesterday marked the 100th day of the school year, the most unusual and challenging of my 32 years in education.  However, yesterday also began the week that we all hope is the turning point.  By the end of this week, every Dorchester County Public Schools student who wants in-person instruction will have started a schedule in which they have at least a day in their school building with their teachers.  Many of our students will have more than one day. 

We are excited to have welcomed all grades of Group A into the classroom yesterday and today, tomorrow and Friday it is the return of all grades in Group B.  This is, in fact, the second week of in-person instruction for Group D.  In case you are wondering what happened to Group C?   These are our students whose families have opted for virtual learning all year so they will continue to receive online instruction alongside their classmates who are in their buildings.

At present, we are balancing bringing as many students into our buildings as possible while ensuring that we are able to maintain health protocols and keeping everyone safe.  While the Dorchester County COVID metrics continue to improve, we are taking nothing for granted. Your continued support in following health and safety protocols at home, in the community, and at school will allow us to continue moving towards bringing our students back for more in-person learning opportunities.

On a side note, over the last three years, we have had very few weather events which have kept us home. Wednesday into Thursday, we could have our second weather event of the year.  Please be ready to return to full virtual learning if our busses cannot transport our students safely.

Stay safe and healthy,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

February 10, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

Yesterday was the day all of us at Dorchester County Public Schools have been looking forward to, and no one more than me: students returned to our school buildings. Group D – that’s 12th grade and some younger DCTC students, students with issues connecting to the internet, small groups of special needs students, struggling learners, and children of DCPS staff – are the first of our students to transition back to in-person learning. The atmosphere in the schools was one of great excitement as we welcomed children back, as you can see below. I know this excitement will continue next week when our A and B groups take turns joining the D cohort for in-person learning.

Our overriding principle while planning this return has been to keep classroom occupancy levels at a safe level, allowing social distancing, while ensuring that every child in A and B groups has some level of in-person learning every week. The variations in the layout of our schools along with differences in family preference for in-person or virtual instruction mean that in-person schedules vary from school to school for Groups A and B. We want to welcome as many students back into our classrooms as we can do safely. Each school’s plan maximizes the number of children that can be safely accommodated in accordance with that school’s physical capacity and the number of families who have chosen in-person learning for their children. All of our families of A and B group students should now be clear on their child’s in-person school schedule. If not, I urge you to get in touch with your school as soon as possible.

COVID metrics continue to fall in Dorchester County. The positivity rate has fallen by a third from just three weeks ago, and the case rate per 100,000 has fallen by over 60%. This good news is encouraging as we bring our students back. But we must also be realistic – we are still some distance from the end of this pandemic. Keep in mind there is a chance we may have to close classrooms or even a school on short notice from time to time. While we can celebrate the good news of taking steps toward normality, we must also remain vigilant and continue to maintain all safety protocols of wearing a mask, washing hands, and maintaining social distance.

Just a few housekeeping details: This Friday, February 12 is an early dismissal day and DCPS is closed on Monday, February 15 for Presidents’ Day. High school athletics begin Saturday, February 13; please contact your school for more information. Also, Friday, February 26th will be a regular synchronous/in-person school day and not an asynchronous day as announced earlier.

Stay safe and healthy,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

February 3, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

The plan for Dorchester County Public Schools is to continue following our re-opening plan. DCPS staff have returned to their buildings this week and we will have our D-group students return next week.

D-group consists of 12th grade and other notified DCTC students, small groups of special needs students, those with connectivity issues, identified struggling learners, and children of DCPS staff learning in-person. All A, B, and C group students will continue learning online with hopes of returning the following week. Individual schools should have notified parents and students regarding which group your child has been assigned. If you are unaware of which group your child is in, please contact your child’s school.

The metrics have been decreasing daily, giving us hope on increasing student numbers attending school in the near future. On another positive note, DCPS has moved towards two weeks of in-person winter sports activity at the secondary level and the Bayside Conference has unanimously approved a Fall and Spring sports schedule to finish out the school year.

Stay safe and healthy,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

January 20, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good Afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Families and Community,

As I announced last week, Dorchester County Public Schools will remain in Phase 1 of our Reopening Plan at least until the week of February 1, 2021. This means that all students will be learning online; no students will be in buildings.

Unfortunately, the rate of COVID-19 remains high in Dorchester County – the highest in the state. Our case rate average remains over twice that of the state as a whole. The metrics below show the county’s details over the last week. The DCPS-specific COVID-19 dashboard, available on our website, shows that 41 of our students tested positive in the week ending last Friday, up from 11 the week before. This increase is the result of community spread; remember, students have not been in school buildings. As a reminder, the DCPS dashboard is updated late afternoon or early evening every Friday with information provided by the Dorchester County Health Department.

Please remain diligent about wearing a mask, maintaining social distance from those outside your household, and washing your hands. It takes all of us working together to reduce the rate of COVID in Dorchester County and ensure our students can return to their school buildings safely.

Stay safe and healthy,

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

DATE           Positivity Rate  Case Rate
1/19/2021                     13.6  98.0
1/18/2021 14.0  98.0
1/17/2021 14.3 94.0
1/16/2021 12.9 95.8
1/15/2021 13.1 98.9
1/14/2021 12.7 91.7
1/13/2021 12.0 89.5

January 15, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Dear Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

Happy New Year to everyone as this is our first Superintendent video of the New Year.

In my last communication to you on November 20, 2020, I expressed a great deal of caution and concern as we had been the first Maryland county to go in reverse to Phase I on October 27, 2020, but more importantly, announced that we would begin back to school in small groups after our Thanksgiving break. We even increased the number of our students in schools with these groups as several days in December saw our daily attendance reach over 500 students. Students and staff were in all 12 schools, with success, with very few positive COVID cases in students or DCPS staff. The Executive Team of DCPS and administrative teams at our schools were extremely excited and optimistic about returning in the new year possibly in Phase II of our reopening plan. As you know, I was speaking with Dorchester County Health Department Officer Roger Harrell regularly and we were both excited that we were able to have students and staff in school during this time.

As all of you are aware, COVID 19 does not care about how optimistic you can be and began to spread throughout the county on December 30, 2020, at alarming rates daily. We readjusted our return from the new year and have since readjusted it again as we are now remaining in Phase I through the end of term II. If you have visited our DCPS COVID dashboard, you will clearly see that the uptick in positive cases within Dorchester County has included our students, and this at a time when students were not even in school, among other children. Today, the dashboard will show an increase with more student cases when updated.

Our COVID numbers across the Eastern Shore are so elevated, the Bayside Athletic Conference has now canceled the winter sports season for high school athletes, an unprecedented safety measure in Bayside Conference history.

As I speak with parents, students, and our community, I continue to be extremely disappointed as we all want our students back in school.

We are so concerned about our present state of students not in school that we reconvened our re-opening committee chairs and are making a slight shift to allow every DCPS student who wishes to come to school be able to see their teacher in person at least 1 day a week and for our D group to return for 4 days a week. The bottom line is DCPS is trying to have approximately 25% of an individual schools’ population in school from Tuesday to Friday with Mondays remaining asynchronous.

This is a shift from our initial reopening plan and had to be submitted to MSDE for reapproval as well as an okay from Dorchester County Health Officer Roger Harrell. Believe me, Mr. Harrell wants all of our students back into school as soon as safely possible and agrees with this plan of action. Additionally, we expect quick approval from MSDE on this modification to our plan.

We hope to begin this new hybrid format on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, if health metrics allow. Again, Dorchester County has some of the worst numbers in the state in positivity rate and case rate at this time.

With this announcement, I’m sure you have numerous questions which our schools and website should answer. Your individual school will be contacting you about what day your child can attend.

On a positive note, as the governor announced yesterday, Maryland is in 1B of the vaccination program and those DCPS employees who have chosen to take the vaccine are scheduled for their first vaccination on January 29, 2021, with the 2nd dose scheduled on February 26, 2021. Those 2 days will be asynchronous days as we do not have enough staff to cover synchronous and in-person learning on either Friday when DCPS employees will be vaccinated.

I respect every decision our employees have had to make in regard to whether to take or not take the vaccine.

Hopefully, with these new plans, DCPS will begin to move out of the COVID shock we have all been dealing with and the third term and the elementary trimester will be a positive movement towards normalcy to DCPS and all our Dorchester County families.

As I did with my last video in November, this is my alert to everyone, even as I am cautiously optimistic with our new plans.

We can only advance with our phases of the re-opening plan if our staff, students, parents, and the community follow the COVID safety protocols suggested by the CDC guidelines consistently. Our recent spike in COVID positives happened because holiday excursions, large gatherings, or family gatherings consistently were spreaders of COVID positives within the county and has advanced the positivity rate to unsafe levels not seen at all during the pandemic.

An additional alert for parents and the community is to be ready and flexible as we return to school. As we try to bring approximately 25% of our students back to school, COVID positive spikes and outbreaks could create a possibility that an individual school could be closed for upwards of two weeks while the rest of the district continues with in-person learning. We will do everything we can to avoid such an occurrence but keep in mind, in our COVID world, this is still a real possibility.

I am pleading with our parents to communicate with your school involving the virtual learning platforms being presented to your child. We are constantly trying to improve and enhance the success of all our students while asynchronous and synchronous learning.

Again, I wish for everyone to remain safe, have a great weekend.

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

January 13, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Good afternoon Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

Along with our Dorchester County Health Department partners, we continue to monitor the county’s COVID statistics closely and, as you can see from the metrics and graphs below from the Maryland Department of Health, the local rate of COVID-19 remains high. As of today, Dorchester County’s rate of COVID is the highest on the Shore, second highest in the state of Maryland, and, according to the DCHD, the highest our county has experienced during this pandemic. As a result, we will remain in Phase I through the next two weeks, taking us to Monday, February 1.

Your frustration with this situation is shared by me as well as all of us at Dorchester County Public Schools. We want nothing more than to be able to start bringing students back into our buildings safely. Anticipating this day, the Executive Team and I have been working on a new plan to ensure as many of our students are able to receive some amount of in-person instruction as soon as it is safely possible. I will be announcing details of this plan this Friday afternoon.

Reducing COVID is a community effort. Please try to limit your contacts and practice the three W’s: wear a mask, wash your hands, and wait six feet away from others.

Stay safe and healthy.

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

DATE           Positivity Rate  Case Rate
1/12/2021                     11.6    90.4
1/11/2021 12.1    84.6
1/10/2021 10.5 88.6
1/09/2021 11.3 89.5
1/08/2021 11.3 69.8
1/07/2021 10.7 69.4
1/06/2021 10.4 54.1
1/05/2021 9.8 48.8
1/04/2021 9.4 51.5
1/03/2021 9.3 45.2

Positivity Rate:

Positivity Rate

Case Rate Per 100K:

Case Rate

January 6, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Dear Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

As I announced during the break, we planned on returning January 5, 2021 in small group instruction as before the break. My daily conversations with Dorchester County Health Department Officer Roger Harrell continued over the holiday break, when the Executive Team and I waited anxiously for his daily reports. Each day, Dorchester County’s COVID case figures continued to remain somewhat steady, giving us significant but very cautious optimism for returning in January with an increased student population in our schools. That cautious optimism began to unravel on December 30, 2020 as our positivity rate jumped exponentially to numbers we had not yet seen. Each day Dorchester County has risen to as high as 9.8% positivity rate and 51.5 per 100 thousand case rate.

While I have stressed that Dorchester County Public Schools does NOT just go by those metrics (positivity rate and case rate), a significant change also occurred in other matrix evaluation numbers. In the days following December 30, 2020, 15 DCPS students of varying grade levels tested positive for COVID 19. These students would have affected 7 of our 13 schools. This was a considerable shift from previous weeks as we had little to no student and staff infections and had been operating OVER the recommended positivity rate number of 5% and case rate of over 15 per 100k quite successfully. We had been so successful, that several days prior to the break, over 500 students were present in their home school. What is so disturbing and outright scary with the 15 DCPS students who were diagnosed with COVID 19 was that there had not been an outbreak like this among students since the pandemic began in March and this occurred in a five-day span while the students were NOT in school. My concern immediately after hearing about our students was that we could NOT create a “super spreader” event by bringing our students back to school in small groups. Dorchester County Health Officer Roger Harrell agreed with my assessments which is what accelerated our Sunday statement to return to Phase I. Since then, the number of active COVID cases in Dorchester County has nearly doubled with the tragic number of deaths increasing during the last nine-day span.

I will continue to consult with Mr. Harrell each day regarding all COVID metrics that he uses for his recommendation to me on staff and students returning to school. While he does not take any number for granted, testing positivity rate is always a key to his recommendation. He uses up to eight different metrics to determine his recommendation for staff and students returning to school, including local hospital capacity which is already under pressure. As of today, Dorchester County has a 9.8% positivity rate causing us very real concerns for DCPS students and staff.

In reviewing our chart below and our increasing numbers from New Year’s testing, we will be remaining in Phase I through next week. As term II is coming to a close, I encourage parents and students to contact your teachers, guidance counselor or school administration to assist you with any concern you may have. Remember, ALL your grades count towards passing a class and being promoted for the school year.

I will continue to do our Wednesday statements at 3 pm, when I will announce a decision as to which instructional model will be implemented on the following Tuesday, based on the prior seven days of health metrics. I know having the most up to date information for parent planning is paramount, but as I have said many times to date: COVID-19 does NOT care about how schools or parents plan.

I want everyone to remain safe while staying vigilant with your COVID-19 safety guidelines. Stay tuned, stay healthy, and stay hopeful that we can proceed further into small group, Phase 1.5 or Phase II of our reopening plan as soon as safely possible.

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

DATE           Positivity Rate  Case Rate
12/30/2020                         6.10%         23.7
12/312020 6.90%       21.00
1/01/2021 7.40% 34.50
1/02/2021 7.70% 36.20
1/03/2021 8.40% 39.80
1/04/2021 9.30% 45.20
1/05/2021 9.40% 51.50
1/06/2021 9.80% 48.8

January 3, 2021 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Dear Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

DCPS has received updated numbers from the Dorchester County Health Department today, Sunday, January 3rd.  Based on the increase in the Dorchester County positivity rate, the decision has been made to return to Phase I, virtual learning for all students during the week of January 4th.

Distributions of grab-and-go bags will take place on Monday and Thursday at all elementary and high schools as well as the Central Office from 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

The timing of this notice is late, but please know that this decision was made together with Mr. Roger Harrell, Dorchester County Health Department Officer, based on the most recent health metrics and out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of everyone.  

There will be an update on Wednesday, January 6th at 3:00 p.m.

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent of Schools

Dorchester County

December 30, 2020 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Dear Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

I hope everyone has enjoyed the time off and remained safe during our present winter break.

The plan for Dorchester County Public Schools, is to remain at our present status when we resume after the holiday break. Staff and students are to return asynchronously on Monday, January 4, 2021, and the small groups now in school buildings will return to their buildings on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

This means that the first week of school in 2021 will be a continuance of the present status with DCTC students, small groups of special needs students, those with connectivity issues, identified struggling learners, and children of DCPS staff learning in-person. All other A, B, and C group students will continue learning online.

Presently our positivity rate and case rate remain higher than recommended for increased student attendance in schools. I had hoped to be able to make an announcement regarding the week of January 11, 2021 but the situation remains too uncertain. However, the metrics have been decreasing daily, giving us hope on increasing student numbers for attending school in the near future.

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent of Schools

Dorchester County

December 16, 2020 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Dear Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

As we approach the holiday break and the new year, I look ahead with hope but also trepidation. With the introduction of a COVID vaccine, the big picture for 2021 looks positive but the short term looks far less certain.

The plan for Dorchester County Public Schools, as it now stands, is to remain at our present status when we resume after the holiday break. Staff and students are to return asynchronously on Monday, January 4, 2021, and the small groups now in school buildings will return to their buildings on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. This means that the first week of school in 2021 will be a continuance of the present status with DCTC students, small groups of special needs students, those with connectivity issues, identified struggling learners, and children of DCPS staff learning in-person. All other A, B, and C group students will continue learning online. Presently, our positivity rate and case rate remain higher than recommended for increased student attendance in schools.

Of course, like all decisions, this plan depends upon Dorchester County’s COVID metrics over the holiday break, along with the advice of Chief Health Officer Roger Harrell. He and I will continue to monitor the situation over the next two weeks, and I will make an announcement at 3 pm on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 confirming plans for the week of January 4, 2021. At that time, I also hope to be able to make an announcement regarding the week of January 11, 2021.

I recognize the toll this uncertainty takes and hope for good news in January that will allow us to have more students back in the school buildings, learning in-person. However, I also reaffirm my commitment to always act in the best interest of the community, students, and staff to keep everyone safe.

I see this holiday break as one of our most important that I can ever remember. Our children, parents, caregivers, community and DCPS staff deserve a much-needed time to disconnect and relax our minds as the pandemic continues. Please be extra safe during your holiday planning as again, DCPS wishes to increase student attendance upon our return in 2021.

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent of Schools

Dorchester County

December 9, 2020 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Dear Dorchester County Public Schools Community,

Dorchester County Public Schools will remain at its present status next week, December 14 through December 18, 2020. Those small groups now in school buildings will continue attending in-person but we will still not be moving to Phase 1.5 at this time.

Over the past week, the county’s testing positivity rate has hovered around 5%, with some days under that benchmark figure, while some days were over. Although the positivity rate, along with the new case rate per 100,000 population, are core indicators as to whether schools should open or close, they are NOT meant to be “hard and fast” determinants, as State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon reminded the State Board of Education earlier this week.

These figures are indicators, or guidelines. There are additional metric indicators that Dorchester County Chief Health Officer, Roger Harrell and I also review when considering whether schools should open for staff and how many children can be safely accommodated. These indicators include trends, as determined by the percentage change in new cases per 100,000 population over a period of time, available hospital capacity, whether the data is driven by a very localized outbreak, and the extent to which mitigation strategies are followed in the broader community. Since last Wednesday’s update, indicators in Dorchester County have remained relatively steady, among the lowest on the Eastern Shore.

Additionally, please understand, that if numbers were to drastically change in a positive or negative direction, I will act in the best interest of the community, students, and staff to keep everyone safe.

While this takes us to the holiday break, please note that I will be making an additional announcement next Wednesday, December 16, 2020, at 3pm to review our return plans for the new year.

Please review the attached link which Mr. Harrell uses judicially on his recommendations to me for staff and students returning to school.

CDC-Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-Making,https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/indicators.html

Please stay safe!

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent of Schools

Dorchester County

December 4, 2020 - Secondary Grading Information

Reminder: Your grades count and you are required to pass your courses. There is NO pass/fail policy in place this school year. The DCPS grading policy is in effect and will not be reversed due to building closures.

Letter grade A: 90-100%; Excellent mastery of knowledge and skills; the quality of work is superior.

Letter grade B: 80-89%; Good mastery of knowledge and skills; the quality of work is above average.

Letter grade C: 70-79%; Satisfactory mastery of knowledge and skills; the quality of work is average.

Letter grade D: 60-69%; Unsatisfactory mastery of knowledge and skills; the quality of work is the minimal level of acceptable performance.

Letter grade E: 0-59%; Failure in mastery of knowledge and skills; the student does little or none of the work required, and the quality is unacceptable. 

infographic of above information

The assignments your teachers have prepared matter. Your ownership and engagement in your learning matters. Log into virtual learning on time. Complete your assignments and turn them in before the due date passes. Schoology logs your activity; make sure your submissions are completed. Do not submit blank assignments.

infographic of above information

What happens if I do not pass my class(es)? You will be required to recover your course credit, and to do that you will have to ...

Middle school students: Retake the entire grade level next school year or retake the entire course over again in Summer School.

High school students: Retake the entire course next semester or school year or retake the entire course over again in Evening High or retake the entire course over again in Summer School.

All of this is in addition to the classes you need to continue to take. 

infographic of above information

First term report cards were sent home. Grades can be checked using PowerSchool.

Second term interim reports go home December 8. 

infographic of above information

December 2, 2020 - Superintendent's Weekly COVID Update

Dorchester County Public Schools will remain at its present status next week, December 7 through December 11, 2020. Those small groups now in school buildings, including DCTC students, some special needs students, students with poor internet connectivity, children of DCPS staff, and identified struggling learners, will continue attending in-person but moving to Phase 1.5 will not take place at this time. Dorchester County Public Schools will remain at its present status next week, December 7 through December 11, 2020. Those small groups now in school buildings, including DCTC students, some special needs students, students with poor internet connectivity, children of DCPS staff, and identified struggling learners, will continue attending in-person but moving to Phase 1.5 will not take place at this time.

Secondary Athletics scheduled to begin next week will NOT be in person and can only take place virtually until Dorchester County Public Schools at least reaches Phase 1.5 of its re-opening plan. This decision is due to a rise in the county’s testing positivity rate and was made in conjunction with Dorchester County Health Officer Roger Harrell.

November 30, 2020 - An Open Letter to the Dorchester County Public Schools Community

Dear Dorchester County Public School Community,

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving break. As I announced before the break, we WILL be returning to school tomorrow in special groups. My daily conversations with Dorchester County Health Department Officer Roger Harrell continued over the Thanksgiving break, when the Executive Team and I waited anxiously for his daily reports. Each day, Dorchester County’s COVID case figures continued to move in a downward direction, giving us significant optimism for returning in December.

I will continue to consult with Mr. Harrell each day regarding All COVID metrics that he uses for his recommendation to me on staff and students returning to school. While he does not take any number for granted, testing positivity rate is always a key to his recommendation. He uses up to eight different metrics to determine his recommendation for staff and students returning to school. Presently, Dorchester County has improved over 24% in the last 14 days, reducing its positivity rate and case rate. Today, Dorchester County has a 3.1% positivity rate which again shows our continued improvement.

Each week on Wednesday at 3 pm, I will announce a decision as to which instructional model will be implemented on the following Tuesday, based on the prior seven days of health metrics. I know having the most up to date information for parent planning is paramount but, as we have all found out, COVID-19 does NOT care about how schools or parents plan. I want everyone to remain safe while staying vigilant with your COVID-19 safety guidelines. Stay tuned, stay healthy, and stay hopeful that we can proceed further into Phase 1.5 next week and Phase II of our reopening plan in January 2021.

W. David Bromwell

Superintendent

Dorchester County Public Schools

October 21, 2020 - Important Announcement

Good Evening DCPS Families,

  This is Dave Bromwell, Superintendent of DCPS.  Over the last 6 days the Dorchester County community has seen an increase in its COVID-19 positivity rate.  The positivity rate has increased exponentially to make Dorchester County the 3rd highest in the state of Maryland over this short period of time.  Today alone our case rate was 30.9 giving Dorchester County a positivity rate of 6.1%. This is up from 2.5% on October 10, 2020. These both meet the health and safety metrics that require a reassessment.

  Through the continued collaboration of the Dorchester County Health Department and DCPS, both agree that in the interest of the health and safety and abundance of caution, to close our school buildings.  I repeat, the school buildings will be closed to students and staff, with staff teleworking until further notice.  This Thursday October 22nd, Friday October 23rd, and Monday October 26th will be asynchronous learning for students.  Beginning Tuesday October 27th, we will return to our phase one virtual learning schedule for students and staff.

  Parents, staff and students, I am just as frustrated for the need to make this decision as you are, but please know that this difficult decision was not taken lightly, and done in full collaboration with the Dorchester County Health Department.  My first priority is the safety and health of our community.  If you have any additional questions, please contact your school administrative team or your child’s teacher through email.

Stay safe and Good night.

October 2, 2020

Here is a summary of protective measures that will be in place for students as we transition to Phase 2 of our reopening plans.

  • The health of all DCPS students and staff depends on you evaluating your student’s health each day before they are sent to school. Please refer to the DCPS COVID-19 AwarenessCOVID-19 AwarenessParent/Guardian Attendance Acknowledgement Statement
  • Students and staff are expected to wear a mask while on the school bus and in school. Mask breaks have been built into students’ daily schedules.
  • Students are encouraged to bring a filled water bottle(s) to school each day. School fountains will not be operational at this time. Students may only bring water to school.
  • To ensure the safety of all bus riders, students must ride the same bus each day. Bus changes cannot be honored at this time.
  • To ensure the safety of all students, parents/guardians will not be admitted to school buildings. If you need to pick up your child due to illness or an appointment, please call the school when you arrive and school staff will meet you at the door. Please be prepared to show your identification.
  • Students should bring their DCPS-issued device and the charger and DCPS workbooks (Illustrative Math, Fundations for elementary) and textbooks (for secondary). All other school supplies should remain at home as individual work materials will be supplied for your child.

Note that family decisions to work virtually will remain in effect until the end of Trimester 1 (November 30) for elementary students and until the end of Semester 1 (January 26, 2021) for secondary students.

October 2, 2020

COVID-19 AwarenessCOVID-19 AwarenessParent/Guardian Attendance Acknowledgement Statement

September 29, 2020

Phase 2: Elementary Schools Re-opening

In order to move forward with an equitable educational program for all learners at home and at school (A week/B week), your student will continue to use the Google platform for direct instruction and the Schoology platform for independent assignments each day.

Schedule:

Monday                              Asychronous

Tuesday – Friday              Students will report in person or virtually to follow their full-day schedule.

Students will continue to work on mastery of the DCPS Curriculum and Maryland Learning Standards.

Students will need to bring their DCPS devices.

Daily Routine:

PreK & Kindergarten      Breakfast; Instruction; 15 minute Mask Break; Instruction; Lunch/Recess; Rest Time/Mask Break; Centers; Read Aloud

Grades 1 – 5                    Breakfast; Instruction; 15 minute Mask Break; Instruction; Lunch/Recess; Instruction; 15 minute Mask Break; ARC Steps

More Details to Come…

Start and finish times, as well as bus routes will be announced once finalized.

Health and Safety precautions will be outlined and shared with families.

Phase 2 Elementary Infographic

September 25, 2020

Superintendent Bromwell Outlines the Next Steps in Re-Opening Schools Video   
Script for the Video

September 24, 2020

PSSAM's statement - Return to Play (PDF)

September 15, 2020

DCPS Re-Opening Plan (PDF) -updated 9/15/2020

September 14, 2020

Pathway for the Return of Interscholastic Athletics in DCPS (PDF)

Student School Process Map for COVID-19 (PDF)

September 3, 2020

COVID-19 101 and FAQ for School Administrators Presentation by Dr. Casey Scott

August 26, 2020 - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Re-opening of Dorchester County Public Schools

August 13, 2020 - DCPS Re-opening Plan

DCPS Re-Opening Plan (PDF)

July 13, 2020 - Board of Education Amends 2020-2021 School Calendar

The Dorchester County Board of Education today unanimously agreed to amend the 2020-2021 school calendar, moving the first day of school for all students to Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

This adjustment allows the district and families more time to prepare for the challenges presented by virtual learning, particularly in the areas of electronic device preparation, distribution, and training on the use of the new learning platform for teachers, students, as well as parents.

Newly-hired teachers will arrive on August 17 and returning teachers will report on August 24, as originally scheduled.

Superintendent of Schools Dave Bromwell said, “As we start the most unusual school year ever in Dorchester County, it’s important that we take every step we can to ensure success among our staff, students, and families while keeping everyone safe.”