Leonardtown, MD- St. Mary’s Public Schools decide to hold off on announcing further reopening plans due to an outbreak of Covid-19 among staff members that happened over Labor Day weekend.

The superintendent of St. Mary’s Public Schools, Dr. J Scott Smith postponed an informational town hall scheduled for Wednesday, September 16, 2020, to inform parents, students, and staff members of the recent events that led to the decision to delay reopening.

Several St. Mary’s County Public Schools employees were identified using contact tracing methods and subsequently tested for Covid-19 – the staff members that tested positive for the virus are now undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“We’re not going to have thousands of students returning to school in the month of October,” Smith said during the virtual town hall Wednesday afternoon.

With a loss of several of its staff members to quarantine, employees of George Washington Carver Elementary School are now working from home and the school will be closed for the next two days as it undergoes a thorough cleaning and sanitizing.

St. Mary’s County Public Schools needs time to reevaluate the impact that COVID-19 has had on staff members and will continue to have when schools finally do reopen, Smith said.

“It is our responsibility as educators to make sure that everybody understands the responsibility that we… recognize that risk-taking behavior where you find yourself in those situations [that] there can very well be a consequence,” Smith said.

Smith also took the opportunity to update the public on the latest feedback from the survey conducted by the St. Mary’s County Public School District.

Out of the 12,000 people surveyed about the reopening, 75 percent of respondents were eager to see students return to school and the remaining 25 percent showed continued apprehension about reopening and wanted to continue education through virtual means.

“It’s been a roller coaster for well over 190 days and it’s not going to be any less up and down for the next several months,” Smith said.

The virtual town hall meeting slated for next week will address questions from parents and students concerning the health and safety protocols to be instituted at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

This email, obtained by The Southern Maryland Chronicle, was sent out to SMCPS staff. This letter is virtually the same as the one sent to parents and students.

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