The time has finally arrived. For the first time in 18 months, our children are returning to the school building for five days a week of in-person instruction, unless you’ve enrolled in the AACPS Virtual Academy. It’s been a long, long road to get to this point and I know there is a lot of trepidation and questions. Here is a brief rundown of what you can expect and where you can find the answers you need.
As you are all probably now aware, the Maryland State Board of Education passed regulations on August 26, requiring that masks be worn over one’s nose and mouth by all persons in school buildings and on school buses. This includes students, teachers, staff, visitors and contractors. Unlike last year when social distancing measures were also in place, vaccinations and masks are now the most important layers of protection. Masking is especially important for students 11 years old and under who are not yet eligible for a vaccine. The regulations can be found at www.marylandpublicschools.org.
These regulations now go to the Maryland General Assembly Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review for final approval. This process could take up to a couple of weeks.
Anne Arundel County’s superintendent of schools, Dr. George Arlotto, had already required that all students, staff, visitors and contractors wear masks anytime they are inside school buildings. In other words, please send your child to school wearing a properly fitting mask and some backups just in case.
There is new guidance about quarantining that can be found under the “Safety Protocols” link below. The major change is that if students are wearing masks, they won’t have to quarantine if determined to be a close contact so long as they were three feet apart.
Just like last year, both rapid and PCR testing are available for symptomatic students and staff in all school health rooms. Additional information on student surveillance testing is forthcoming.
Additionally, AACPS’ family information line, accessed by dialing 410-222-5001, is back up and provides a way to contact key departments and offices in the system as well as leave a message with questions. Messages are retrieved and routed to the appropriate department or office at least twice each weekday.
I know it’s been a difficult 18 months and we are not yet out of the woods, but I know this school year will be leaps and bounds better than the last. Staff members at your child’s school are ready and willing to help reacclimatize your student so that the building of relationships, rekindling of old friendships, developing new friendships, learning recovery, and new learning can begin. As always, I am here if you have questions, want to voice concerns, or make suggestions. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 443-534-4660.