Remote learning will continue for Caesar Rodney students

CAMDEN — Caesar Rodney School District students will remain in remote instruction until the new year, the school board decided late Monday.

The board voted 4-1, with board member Scott Wilson dissenting, to remain in remote instruction through Jan. 8, reopening in accordance with the governor’s guidance on Jan. 11.

“Since the Caesar Rodney School District has been on a pause since last Wednesday, we actually have had the time to meet and discuss the best direction for our school district,” Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald said.

“I will say that currently, with regard to the operations of the school district, we are being pressed and challenged by the number of teachers and staff that have either tested positive or are in quarantine because they have come into close contact with individuals that have tested positive.”

Caesar Rodney is the latest to determine how to respond to Kent County’s data, and the recommendation of the state which came in at the end of last week.

For the second week, data released by the state indicates that there is significant spread of COVID-19 in Kent County. Last week, that prompted Caesar Rodney to pause its hybrid operations until the board could meet to evaluate more. Since that decision, however, the state issued the recommendation that schools should close Dec. 14 through Jan. 8 as part of its stay-at-home advisory over the holiday season.

“Reflecting back to last week, I know it was a pretty difficult decision for us to make and I think it was one that proved to be the right one to have made at that time, speaking with several principals this week, parents and such,” board president Mike Marasco said. “It’s definitely become more challenging to man our schools, that’s for certain.”

Board member Jessica Marelli said she was hopeful last week that the board would be able to vote students back to hybrid.

“I am very disappointed that the governor made the statement that said that we should be remote until Jan. 11. I’m disappointed because I had really hoped that we would be reopening schools today for the next two weeks, through winter break,” she said. “It’s incredibly disappointing to me because I think the best place for these students is in school, but I see the challenges we’re facing and we have to do what we have to do.”

Mr. Wilson pushed for the district to remain in hybrid. He acknowledged the difficulties operationally, noting that those could be addressed “daily or weekly within each building based on the number of staff that’s available.”

“The virus isn’t going away, so the question is: should we hide from it?” he said. “If we’re doing everything we can in the schools and the data shows that kids are better off psychologically, intellectually, physically, their well-being should be paramount and we should stay in school at least in the hybrid mode.”

Other districts

Ultimately, it was up to the discretion of district and charter leadership to determine how to head into the holiday season. Last week amounted to a flurry of board meetings and decisions issued in response. Decisions have been varied.

Seaford announced it would follow the governor’s recommendation and move to remote Monday, as will Lake Forest.

Appoquinimink and Smyrna both opted to begin remote instruction this week — ahead of the state’s recommendation. Indian River rolled out a compromise, remaining hybrid until the week of Christmas break and staying remote through the first week of January.

Milford will continue with hybrid this week for its students in pre-K through eight before moving to remote learning Dec. 14. Milford High was hybrid Monday and Tuesday, and will return to remote today. All grade levels are anticipated to return Jan. 11.

Cape Henlopen decided it would remain open despite the state’s recommendation. Polytech made a similar decision, stating that the district will “make good use of the time between now and Dec. 14 to continually monitor district health and operational data and assess the safety of our hybrid learning models.”

Laurel and Delmar announced in November they would be remote until the new year. Following the release of Kent County’s data last week, Capital opted to move to remote instruction until Jan. 4.

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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