The Ocean City School District plans to reopen schools for in-person instruction five days a week for grades kindergarten through fifth starting Feb. 1.
According to a letter from Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Taylor, the most recent survey showed “near-unanimous” support among Ocean City Primary School and Ocean City Intermediate School families as well as staff.
“We plan to open the building as if it were the first day of school in September, treating this day and the next few days with appropriate expectations and getting to know student activities,” Primary School Principal Dr. Cathleen Smith said in a press release Tuesday.
Dr. Taylor’s letter was sent out to give insight on the new safety protocols and actions the district will take to accomplish the transition to in-person learning five days a week starting Feb. 1.
To view the letter click on the link
The plans are similar in nature to the protocols already put in place by the school and the CDC, but with increased protection and the purchase of additional PPE.
The Primary School has already constructed Plexiglas barriers on each desk and table, which will also be added to the Intermediate School prior to reopening. There will be additional signage throughout the buildings to remind students to practice safe behavior while in and out of the schools.
In addition, starting on Feb. 1, Grade K-5 teachers will begin “livestreaming” lessons during normal school hours for virtual students. Grades 6-8 will start on Feb. 8. Ocean City High School is already doing concurrent teaching.
“Teachers are anticipating a few hurdles that may come with the transition to concurrent teaching,” said Intermediate School Principal Michael Mattina. “We are continuing to work with teachers to identify and provide resources and solutions to prepare for and to enhance concurrent teaching,”
School Board member Cecilia Gallelli-Keyes added, “We understand that teaching during a pandemic is no small task. which is why we refer to our Ocean City teachers as our first responders in education.”
Dr. Taylor’s letter explains how the schools plan to accelerate their efforts for social-emotional learning (SEL).
The Wellness Wednesday initiative will expand to meet student needs five days a week and provide opportunities to support students in the areas of resiliency, mindfulness, and SEL. A Wellness Team member will enter the classrooms to provide in-person/concurrent lessons.
“We, as the School Board, are in full support of the projected plan and continue to monitor the transmission data within the community as well as within our region,” said School Board President Joseph Clark.
Dr. Taylor’s announcement letter expanded on the overall transmission rate, small class sizes and how these numbers will “enable them” to reopen the K-5 classrooms for those students in the in-person instruction program.
Dr. Patrick Kane, chairman of the COVID-19 committee and vice president of the school board said, “I recently had the opportunity to walk through the Primary and Intermediate Schools with a team of school and district administrators, board members and health experts. The schools have done a fantastic job implementing the recommendations of the CDC for safely returning to school.”
Additional information can be found in Dr. Taylor’s letter or by contacting your child’s principal.
The district continues to urge all community members to follow social distancing guidelines, wear a mask and not to gather in large groups.
For more information, visit the district website at oceancityschools.org.