Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) has experienced a recent increase of positive COVID-19 reports among students and staff. The increase is not specific to the school system, as the Charles County Department of Health is also reporting increased data for the county as a whole.
Below are several important COVID-19 operational updates.
In recent weeks, CCPS has consulted with the health department about the increase of COVID-19 cases at specific schools including Theodore G. Davis and Milton M. Somers middle schools, and St. Charles and Westlake high schools. Each of these schools recently experienced a grade-level quarantine for students or a building quarantine for all students as a result of connected cases discovered through contact tracing by the schools. Any quarantine measures are precautionary to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
As of today, CCPS has no plans to move to virtual learning systemwide. As the system approaches winter break, principals are asking students to bring home their school-issued learning devices but only as a precaution. Any time a decision is made to quarantine a classroom, grade-level or school, CCPS will communicate directly with the affected parents and staff of the school community. Systemwide decisions that affect all students, parents and staff are shared with the entire CCPS community.
Since the start of the pandemic, CCPS has worked closely with the health department and Charles County Health Officer Dr. Dianna Abney to discuss quarantine situations, monitor COVID-19 data, evaluate contact tracing processes and track possible community spread in schools.
CCPS quarantine process
Below is a visual representation of the CCPS COVID-19 quarantine process. Quarantine processes are in place to support a continuation of in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities for students.
Quarantine protocols begin at the student level, and transition to the classroom, then grade level and school when necessary. As part of contact tracing, CCPS follows state guidelines when defining an outbreak or community spread. Minimum criteria as defined by the Maryland Department of Health of community spread includes at least two confirmed COVID-19 cases among individuals at a school within a 14-day period, but who are not household contacts. Any time community spread is identified from exposure at a CCPS school or building, staff members consult with the health department about quarantines.
The health department can also require CCPS to close a building, school, center or the system at any time if county indicators warrant such action.
Reporting COVID-19 during winter break
Winter break is Dec. 23 through Dec. 31, 2021, for all students and CCPS staff. CCPS asks that both parents and staff continue to report positive COVID-19 results to the school system during winter break. Parents and staff can use an electronic confidential reporting form linked here to inform school officials about positive test results.
The CCPS Office of School Safety and Security will continue contact tracing during winter break. After completing the reporting form, parents or staff will receive additional information about when to report back to school/work.
CCPS strongly encourages staff, parents and families to undergo COVID-19 testing after the holidays, especially if holiday plans involve travel or large gatherings. The health department offers free COVID-19 testing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at select locations in Charles County. Click here for locations and times. Routine testing is encouraged by the school system to prevent COVID-19 positive staff or students from attending school.
All high school athletes and extracurricular participants must undergo weekly screening, regardless of vaccination status
CCPS will resume in-person instruction for all students on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. Beginning on Jan. 3, all student athletes or students in Grades 6-12 who participate in extracurricular activities must participate in the weekly COVID-19 screening program, regardless of their vaccination status. This change will require any vaccinated athletes or extracurricular participants to register for the screening program. Parents must complete a one-time online registration process for their child with the state health department contractor, 20/20 GeneSystems, at https://schooltesting.2020gene.com/login.
Any other CCPS staff member or student can participate in the free weekly screening. Screenings are done weekly at schools and centers and are completed through an anterior nasal swab PCR test. Results are provided to parents and staff in the portal within 48 hours. Users can sign up for email notifications. Only positive results are shared confidentially with the CCPS Office of School Safety and Security for follow up to ensure sick students or staff are not coming to schools. A weekly testing schedule is posted online at https://www.ccboe.com/index.php/covid-19-resources.
Change in COVID-19 positive community notifications, data dashboard to update daily
Schools will no longer send community letters about new COVID-19 positive cases. Any student or staff member identified as possibly exposed to a COVID-19 positive person at school will still be contacted by the school system. There are no changes to the contact tracing process and notification to exposed individuals. The contact tracing process can delay community letters by several days or weeks due to increases in the volume of positive reports, which results in CCPS sharing outdated information with school communities.
Starting tomorrow, Dec. 22, 2021, the COVID-19 data dashboard will update daily Monday through Friday. The dashboard includes daily case reports of students and staff, and users can review data by date and school. The COVID-19 dashboard features real-time CCPS data. The timely reporting of positive cases from parents and staff ensures CCPS and the community has an accurate understanding of COVID-19 in schools. The dashboard is located at https://www.ccboe.com/index.php/covid-19-dashboard. Staff, parents, students and community members can follow COVID-19 reports for schools, centers and buildings using the dashboard.