Stephen Decatur High School has reported 24 positive COVID-19 cases, according to data provided by the Maryland Department of Health website.
Of the reported cases last updated on April 21, Decatur leads the state, followed by Williamsport High School (22) and Boonsboro High School (16), both located in Washington County.
Somerset Intermediate was the only other school on the Lower Shore that reported an outbreak, tallying two cases.
The data reflects public and non-public K-12 schools in Maryland that have COVID-19 outbreaks. Data is based on local health department reports to MDH, which may be revised if additional information becomes available.
This list does not include child care facilities or institutes of higher education.
Worcester County public schools spokesperson Carrie Sterrs issued the following statement:
We have been closely monitoring the outbreak at Stephen Decatur High School. While the Maryland Department of Health’s website totals the number of cases associated with an outbreak, we want to ensure our families recognize the oversimplification that can occur with metrics like these.
The outbreak at SDHS was first reported on March 31, and many of the individuals affected have already recovered, completed their quarantine, and have returned to school. We certainly acknowledge that the number of cases currently reported on the Maryland Department of Health’s website is concerning; however, it is not reflective of currently active cases within the school, but of all historical cases stemming from the March 31, date.
Within the past 14 days, SDHS has reported ten positive cases of COVID-19, with two of those cases reported from students engaged in distance learning. While the source of many of these cases is often traced back to events outside of the school, we recognize our role in helping to mitigate the spread of this virus.
As such, we continue to rely on guidance from our health officials regarding protocols for the handling of this outbreak. We agree, as many health officials do, that testing is the best strategy to mitigate an outbreak, which is why the school system recently implemented the availability of on-site PCR testing for any students or staff countywide that may be impacted by outbreaks at either the classroom or school level.
The health and safety of our students and staff remains our top priority, and we encourage our families to visit our website, www.worcesterk12.org, or contact their school with any additional questions regarding our COVID-19 protocols.
Currently 43 schools have reported outbreaks. Since the website started tracking cases in Maryland schools in October, there have been outbreaks in 216 schools.
Outbreaks are determined based on the following:
- At least two confirmed COVID-19 cases among students/teachers/staff within a 14-day period who are epidemiologically linked, but not household contacts
- Three or more classrooms or cohorts with cases from separate households that meet the classroom/cohort outbreak definition that occurs within 14 days
- Five percent or more unrelated students/teachers/staff have confirmed COVID-19 within a 14 day period (minimum of 10 unrelated students/teachers/staff).
Cases reported reflect the current total number of cases. Schools are removed from the list when health officials determine 14 days have passed with no new cases and no tests pending.
As of Tuesday, Worcester County has a 3.87% positivity rate.
Worcester reported 35 cases and two deaths in the latest week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. A week earlier, it had reported 42 cases and one death. Throughout the pandemic the county has reported 3,537 cases and 97 deaths.
Worcester County public schools started to transition students back to the classroom in a hybrid format on Jan. 19. All students that wished to return for in-person learning were permitted to on March 8.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan pushed for all Maryland schools to reopen for in-person learning by March 1 if they hadn’t already in a Jan. 21 news conference. At the time, Hogan said there was no public health reason for county school boards to keep students away from the classroom.
“Our children can simply not afford any more endless roadblocks or any more moving of the goalpost,” Hogan said. “The time has come to get all of the kids back into the classroom.”
According to the CDC, students should be at least three feet apart in elementary schools. In middle and high schools, students should be at least three feet apart unless the school is in an area of high community transmission and cohorting is not possible.
In this situation, middle and high schools students should be six feet apart.
The CDC also recommends that six feet of distancing should be maintained in the following settings:
- Between adults (teachers and staff), and between adults and students
- When masks cannot be worn, such as when eating
- During activities when increased exhalation occurs, such as singing, shouting, band, or sports and exercise
- In common areas, such as school lobbies and auditoriums
- Between cohorts where possible
Face coverings are required in schools and on school buses by executive order of the Governor.