Students, school staff, parents, and community members testified during the September 1 Board of Education Meeting on the topic of school reopening protocols.
“When you drive a car, you wear a seatbelt. When you ride a bike, you wear a helmet. When you cross the street you look both ways. You learn this in Pre-K. Whenever there is potential danger, we do what we can to mitigate negative consequences. So when there is a pandemic that is killing thousands of people nationwide every day, you wear a mask, you practice social distancing when possible, and you get the vaccine,” said Samantha Schrickel, a Pre-K teacher at Carrie Weedon Early Ed. Center.
In light of the Maryland State Board of Education’s recent mask mandate for individuals in schools throughout the state, Board Member Corine Frank withdrew her previous motion placed during the last BOE meeting. The MSBE ruling now lies in the hands of a legislative committee and will be reviewed starting September 14.
Elementary teacher and TAAAC President Russell Leone also spoke at the meeting to welcome students and educators back for the Fall 2021 semester, sharing that TAAAC, SAAAAC, and AEL members are wearing white to show support for safety protocols.
“The teachers and other educators are ready to lead this year by example. They know the importance of following the science and regardless of personal opinion understand that our example is seen by our students,” said Leone.
AACCPTA President Mallory LaFon also noted in her testimony the coalition built between TAAAC, SAAAAC, AEL, AACCPTA, and AFSCME Local 1693 regarding safety protocols for the Fall 2021 semester.
“Wearing masks is a simple mitigation strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 that, when combined with the full safety plan, will keep us healthy and safe,” said LaFon. Read the full joint statement here.
Vice President Dana Schallheim asked clarifying questions around safety to provide information to school staff and parents, which Superintendent Dr. George Arlotto responded to:
How to stay safe during lunch
- Principals will work with school staff to socially distance students to the best of their abilities. At this time, there are no distancing requirements or capacity limits indoors.
How to stay safe during band/chorus practice
- Students who sing during any practice or performance will now be required to wear a mask.
- Students who play instruments will also be masked. Bell covers and split masks have been purchased for students.
How to stay safe if there is a symptomatic student
- All schools have access to testing for students who show symptoms during the school day. Students will be escorted to the school nurse, who will call the parent/guardian to retrieve the student. At this time, they will be given the option for symptomatic COVID testing. Nurses have been trained and tests are stored in all the health suites at all schools.
- Additional testing will soon be available at all schools for those who come in contact with another individual who has tested positive.
The BOE meeting was cut short due to a tornado warning.