BOE: Top Focus is Reopening the Schools

BOE: Top Focus is Reopening the Schools

School district officials toured the high school and other schools to review the safety protocols that are in place. (Photo courtesy of Martin Fiedler, Just Right TV Productions)


Ocean City school district officials said Wednesday night that they are ready to open the Primary School for five days a week of in-person instruction starting Feb. 1.

During a virtual Board of Education meeting, Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor and the board said both they and the school are prepared.

And the latest success in the proactive approach to remaining open amid the COVID-19 pandemic can be attributed to the work of the recently formed COVID-19 Committee, they noted.

Board Vice President Dr. Patrick Kane, an orthopedic surgeon who is in charge of the COVID-19 Committee, said the committee members toured the High School, Intermediate School and Primary School to make sure safety protocols are place.

Dr. Taylor said that she was a bit nervous about the COVID-19 walkthrough.

“I’ve never been through a medical team coming through a school cafeteria and classroom and giving a medical analysis of our rooms and if they are adhering to safety protocols,” the superintendent said.

She continued, “To watch what Dr. Kane and the committee looked at, it was intense. We have the best of the best and it was reassuring seeing how we are doing. I knew then (after the school tours) that we could make February 1 possible.”

School Board Vice President Dr. Patrick Kane heads the COVID-19 Committee. (Photo courtesy of Martin Fiedler, Just Right TV Productions)

The Intermediate School and High School will open for five-day instruction in the future after supplies are installed, such as more Plexiglas barriers. The school district will also explore the possibility of obtaining more classroom space through the city.

“We all went through the schools and looked at how they were set up – inspections,” Dr. Kane said.

Everyone wore masks and remained six feet apart. Plexiglas barriers separated desks and sanitizer was in many locations at all of the schools, he added.

But he cautioned that this is a fluid situation.

“The district is trying to be as proactive as possible. As you know this is an incredible fluid situation right now,” he said. “All we can do is continue to stay up to date and plan accordingly. We are trying to adapt and keep everyone as safe as possible and optimize the experience.”

During Dr. Kane’s PowerPoint presentation, he showed slides of how each school is set up.

To be successful and to remain open, he stressed that it will take a team effort.

“We need everyone’s help.” Dr. Kane said.

School Board President Joe Clark thanked Dr. Kane for his presentation and the three-hour tour of the schools.

“It is fluid,” Clark said. “It definitely is unchartered territory. We will get there. The goal is to get every student back in school.”

In other matters, Athletic Director Geoffrey Haines did a PowerPoint presentation showcasing the fall sports teams.

Haines showed sports highlights from the top athletes.

“Each season, we always have spectacular teams and this fall was no exception — although it was a different season,” he said.

Haines also displayed photos of the team wins.

“We started off knowing it would be tough with all the protocols. We had challenges but we got through them and had a very successful season,” Haines said, adding that all protocols from mask wearing to social distancing were adhered to.

He also thanked the administration for its ongoing support.

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The Primary School will be the first in the district to offer five days of in-person instruction since the pandemic.