Dr. Patricia Saelens and Board of Education President Richard Smith

Board President Richard Smith, left, and Superintendent Dr. Patricia Saelens, right, during the superintendent’s first meeting with the Board of Education.

CENTREVILLE – As the Center for Disease Control has reevaluated the impact and spread of the Delta variant across the country, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patricia Saelens announced Thursday how Queen Anne’s County Public Schools will tentatively address COVID-19 in the county’s first full school year since the pandemic began.

According to a letter released by the school system, QACPS will require students to wear face masks on buses, as stipulated by federal mandates, but not in the classroom or in school buildings. The school system will encourage mask wearing for non-vaccinated students and staff, but the decisions will ultimately fall on individuals and their families.

“Every parent has the right to have their child wear a mask or not wear a mask,” said QACPS Communication Specialist Lanette Power-Waters.

Personal protective equipment, including masks and hand sanitizer, will be available to any staff or students in need and teachers will be provided ongoing professional development and training to stop the spread of COVID in their classrooms.

In academic settings, social distancing will be recommended at a minimum of three feet whenever possible. Students will be encouraged to use individual materials rather than sharing supplies, and deep cleaning will be done in high touch areas. HVAC systems will also contain the highest MERV rated filters.

QACPS has acknowledged these plans are subject to change. The school system is regularly monitoring guidance from authorities at both the state and federal level. In a letter from Dr. Saelens, which was co-signed by Queen Anne’s County Health Officer Dr. Joseph Ciotola, local data metrics, including vaccination percentages, positivity and hospitalization rates will also factor into any operational decisions.

This past spring, schools hosted a hybrid semester where students had the option to learn entirely online or be split into two groups that would alternate days of the week to attend school in person.

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