CAMBRIDGE — Dorchester County Public Schools students, teachers and staff started their 2021-2022 school year this week.Elementary students, 6th graders and 9th graders started Monday, Aug. 30, and the rest of the middle and high schoolers started on Tuesday. Kindergarten and K-4 students started Wednesday.

“Dorchester County Public Schools is extremely excited about the 2021-2022 school year. We look forward to providing our students with academic as well as social, and emotional supports in these very uncertain times. Weeks ago, I announced that DCPS would be in-person this school year, as we all have learned that for the majority of our students, in-person learning is most successful for our students and families,” Dorchester Superintendent of Schools Dave Bromwell said last week.

He noted Dorchester County has significantly increased its COVID-19 spread, going from Low to High at an alarming rate.

“With that being said, the Dorchester County Health Department and DCPS still feel in-person learning can be done successfully with minimal setbacks or spread of the virus by following a layered approach of mitigation strategies,” he said.

What makes in-person learning during the pandemic so difficult is not necessarily a COVID positive of a student or staff member, but the number of quarantines that must take place to keep everyone still safe within a learning environment, Bromwell said.

“Last year, a student who was positive with COVID could possibly send numerous students home with quarantine status. That is the recommendation again this year if unmasked. But if a classroom is entirely masked and a student becomes positive with COVID-19, masked students who are three feet apart no longer must quarantine,” Browell said. “This is a major change from last years in-person guidelines as published by the CDC. This is why the Maryland State Board of Education has mandated masks for all students and staff.”

He asked parents to continue to be observant. Students should remain home to combat possible spread of COVID 19 if they have one or more symptoms, he said.

“I know my community, and I know how polarizing this subject has been for everyone. But I also know we want our students in school, safe, and learning. The state Board of Education has taken this step to lessen the chances of interruptions to that learning,” Bromwell said. “Thank you for all your patience and flexibility with the pandemic as this extreme roller coaster ride of ups and downs continues.”

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