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 number 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.
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 be available to pick up their children 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 is also asked to assess their health before coming to work.
Parents with sick children should keep their children home, and not send their children 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 is also asked to follow the same guidelines.