The impact of the COVID-19 health crisis has been significant and unprecedented. It has affected all aspects of our lives, including our outstanding education system here in Carroll County. As you may be aware, this week the Maryland state superintendent announced that schools will remain closed through April 24 due to concerns of the spread of COVID-19.
Like you, we are devastated that this has happened and recognize the challenges this will bring. We love and miss our students and want nothing more than to get back to welcoming over 25,000 students through our doors, each and every day. However, as the county’s largest employer, we fully understand the importance of this social distancing effort. We will do whatever is necessary to follow our governor’s lead and the leadership of our Board of County Commissioners in doing our part in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. Hopefully, this will allow us to get back to what we know and love about the incredible offerings of everyday life in Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS).
We anticipated that an extended closure could be a possibility and for the last few weeks have been preparing for ways in which we can provide continuity of learning for our students. Our goal is to keep students engaged as much as possible through a distance learning approach, while also recognizing and understanding the unique circumstances that our families and community members are currently facing. This past week, our principals and teaching staff held virtual meetings to train, plan, and prepare as best as possible to support this distance learning effort. Like many school systems in Maryland, CCPS will be providing varying methods to deliver learning opportunities that will include online learning and traditional pencil and paper.
We fully recognize that a sudden shift of this magnitude is uncharted territory. Distance learning cannot be expected to simply replace our traditional face-to-face, in-school instructional delivery. That is not our expectation. There will certainly be challenges and obstacles to overcome, but we know that by being patient, working collaboratively, and continuing to communicate with each other, we will make the most of this difficult situation for our students and help ensure that they continue to have opportunities to learn during this unprecedented time.
Meanwhile, we know the state superintendent’s decision brings with it many unanswered questions regarding graduation, assessments, and other issues of significant magnitude. Like all other counties in Maryland, we are awaiting direction from the Maryland State Department of Education and will be communicating with our school communities as this information becomes available.
We are tremendously grateful for the ongoing work of CCPS teachers and staff working on continuity of learning plans, our facilities and custodial staff who have been relentless in cleaning and disinfecting all our facilities, and our incredible food services staff who have set up free meal pick-up locations throughout our county, serving thousands of meals per week to students. CCPS staff are caring professionals who are still preparing, planning, and delivering for our students and communities, even when they and their families are impacted by the current crisis. We are also appreciative for our community partners and the broader Carroll community who continue to reach out, share ideas, volunteer time and talent, and support our ongoing efforts.
We have communicated with our school communities on this issue for many weeks and will continue to do so throughout. All of our communications, links, and important updates can be found on our website at https://www.carrollk12.org/.
There is no other community like Carroll County when it comes to cooperation, determination, resourcefulness, and the ability to overcome challenges and obstacles. Together, it’s possible — and together we will work to defeat our current challenge, continue to support our students, and return to what we have come to know and love about CCPS and our incredible Carroll County community.
Steven Lockard is Carroll County Public Schools superintendent and Donna Sivigny is Board of Education president.