CCPS moves to virtual open houses, cancels homecoming dances, and updates field trip guidance, volunteer processes and COVID testing protocol at schools

CCPS moves to virtual open houses, cancels homecoming dances, and updates field trip guidance, volunteer processes and COVID testing protocol at schools

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is adjusting schedules for several upcoming planned indoor events. The changes affect school open houses, high school homecoming dances, middle school dances, volunteer support in schools and planned field trips. The changes will decrease the amount of people gathering inside of school buildings.

Although students and staff are back in buildings for in-person learning, CCPS is limiting the number of outside visitors when possible to support safe learning environments. CCPS has also updated standard operating procedures (SOP) regarding COVID-19 testing at schools. Below are important updates for parents, students and staff.

Virtual open houses, other school events

All schools and centers will hold upcoming open houses and back-to-school nights virtually. The dates and times of the events will be as close to the original schedule as posted earlier in the school year. Principals will share updated information direct with families, including any change to their event date and time.

Similar to last school year, principals and teachers will send virtual links to parents. Parents with specific questions about the open house event planned for their child’s school should contact the school directly.   

CCPS held in-person meet-and-greet events in August for parents and students. As a result, some COVID-19 cases were reported to the school system of sick visitors who attended those events.

School administrators have been asked to offer meetings virtually or outdoors when possible. This may include parent conferences and meetings, PTO meetings, information nights and back-to-school events, and open houses.

CCPS tightens COVID-19 testing procedures at schools

CCPS has updated its protocols for the testing of sick students and staff by a school nurse. Students with a known exposure who want to test out of quarantine after seven days with a negative COVID-19 test must now visit their doctor, use an outside vendor or test through the Charles County Department of Health. The health department offers free testing three times a week. Families may also elect to quarantine their child for 10 days and return to school without testing. Staff who are exposed outside of school will no longer be allowed to receive a COVID-19 test at school to end a quarantine early. Staff should visit their doctor, use an outside vendor or test through the health department on day seven, or wait until day 10 to return to work without a test.

Rapid tests will only be administered by nurses at their discretion for students or staff who display severe COVID-19 symptoms. Any student or staff member who pre-screens as potentially positive for COVID-19 will be offered a PCR test. Staff and students may not return to school or school activities until the results of the test are known. Additionally, individuals who refuse the PCR test after pre-screening as potentially positive will be presumed COVID-19 positive and excluded from school and school activities for ten days. CCPS also updated the COVID-19 prescreening questionnaire.

Click here to view the updated SOP.  

Click here to access the updated prescreening questionnaire.

High school homecoming dances, middle school dances canceled 

All CCPS high school homecoming dances are canceled until further notice from CCPS. Homecoming games scheduled and set in the CCPS Handbook/Calendar are planned to still take place. Homecoming games are scheduled at outdoor athletic venues.

While there is no mask requirement for adults or students in outdoor settings, CCPS highly encourages outdoor mask use for unvaccinated adults/students attending athletic outdoor events.

Field trips restricted to in-county, regional areas

CCPS is limiting in-person field trips for students to regional locations that include Charles County and southern Prince George’s County. This does not apply to the high school athletics program – most regular season events are scheduled in Southern Maryland and these students are required to undergo weekly COVID-19 screening if they are not vaccinated.

CCPS has standard operating procedures in place that require COVID-19 symptomatic students to be picked up from school within one hour of parent notification. Field trip permission forms will require parents to consent to being available to pick up their child during a field trip if they become symptomatic. Limiting field trip travel will also assist staff in the contact tracing process, if needed.

Limited volunteer program participation

Schools will support a limited number of volunteers to aid with field trips. Volunteers will have to go through a background check, and consent to completing the CCPS prescreening health questionnaire before coming into contact with students or staff. Principals will designate a coordinator at each school to oversee the volunteer process. Community members interested in limited volunteer opportunities should contact their child’s school for specific details.

Instruction for sick, quarantined students 

Schools have instructional plans for students who are out of school, either from COVID-19 or another illness, or have been asked by CCPS to quarantine. All instructional plans for schools are posted on individual school websites. The deadline for schools to post plans online was extended to Friday, Sept. 10. 

Sick individuals should stay home

Limiting the number of people who enter a school building — particularly those who are not inside of CCPS schools daily such as students, staff and teachers — will aid staff who conduct COVID-19 contact tracing.

Staff in the CCPS Office of School Safety and Security oversees contact tracing for every positive case of COVID-19 reported to the CCPS Office of School Administration and the Office of Human Resources. School staff assist with contact tracing, as well.  

The safety of schools is a community effort among staff, teachers and parents. CCPS asks parents to complete the COVID-19 prescreening questionnaire daily before sending their child on the bus or to school. The questionnaire is posted here on the CCPS website. Staff are also asked to assess their health before coming to work.

Parents with a sick child should keep their children home, and not send their child to school or on the bus. CCPS also asks for children to be kept home if they have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person in the last seven days (and are not vaccinated), live with someone who is COVID-19 positive (and are not vaccinated), are in quarantine due to another exposure or waiting for a COVID-19 test result. Staff are also asked to follow the same guidelines.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event. CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).

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