Milford School District to resume in-person learning

MILFORD — Milford School District will resume its hybrid instruction after a brief pause to evaluate its path ahead, following state data that indicated significant community spread of COVID-19 in Kent County.

“Though we are concerned with rising COVID-19 cases and related exposures within our district-community, we have not experienced spread within our schools,” Superintendent Dr. Kevin Dickerson said in a prepared statement. “Furthermore, the Division of Public Health (DPH) is not finding spread of the virus within schools and expresses that the mitigation strategies in place within schools allow for schools to be a safe environment for students and staff.”

Hybrid instruction will resume for the end of this week, the statement said.
The district hit pause on in-person learning Tuesday after the state’s data indicated that Kent County had entered the “red” phase for school reopenings.

The reopening criteria uses three categories — new-case rate per 100,000 people, weekly average of percentage of positive tests and average daily hospitalizations per 100,000. Kent County has its new-case rate per 100,000 at 277.1, above the 100.0 need to be yellow, and its percent-positive rate at 8.3%, just above the cutoff for yellow at 8.0%.

After the data was released, Milford was among several Kent districts that opted to pause remote learning. Capital School District announced it would move to full remote instruction until Jan. 4; Caesar Rodney School District will pause its hybrid learning for a week, until next Wednesday, as it assesses.

“As we move forward, the district will continue to consult with DPH and the state, monitor local and state data, evaluate for any spread of the virus within our schools and make sure our schools can operate safely,” Dr. Dickerson said. “If necessary in serving the best interests of the health and safety of our district-community, the district may pause in-person learning for a period of time for a school or the entire district.”

Milford’s decision to continue with hybrid instruction comes after two days of statewide discussion about the future of schools, including a statement from the Delaware State Education Association pressing for more transparency in COVID-19 data, as the numbers creep up in Kent County.

“Educators, students, their families and their communities have the right to know what to expect, and more importantly, what to prepare for,” DSEA President Stephanie Ingram said in a prepared statement. “We need the time to ensure a smooth transition back to remote learning, which is exactly where the data shows us heading.”

The choice to resume hybrid, however, falls in line with what Gov. John Carney and state officials remarked on Tuesday during a weekly press conference.

The state emphasized the virus’s lack of spread in the schools and that districts should use both local and state data to make decisions.

DPH opted to use those three criteria because one metric “was not enough to really paint a picture of exactly what’s going on with the pandemic,” Dr. Rick Hong, medical director for DPH, said during Tuesday’s press conference.

“We included three metrics that would address the acuity, that would address our testing capacity and address spread or number of cases,” he said. “We understand cases are increasing, our numbers are going the wrong direction, and we need to make sure we are doing the right thing to maintain the safety within the schools and not making a quick decision without looking at trends.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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