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Carney: Data shows schools likely to start with mix of classes

'But one thing is clear: the safety of all of Delaware’s students, educators and staff will be our top priority.'

Gov. John Carney said for the third time Tuesday that Delaware schools are likely to start with a mix of in-person and remote classes.

Carney has repeatedly pointed to COVID-19 data that shows the spread of the virus is minimal to moderate. With that kind of spread, the state’s reopening guidelines suggest that younger children should be in classrooms and classes for older ones can be taught remotely over the internet.

“Safely reopening schools for Delaware children – especially our youngest learners and disadvantaged children who need in-person instruction the most – is the most important and difficult issue we’ll face as we continue to confront this COVID-19 crisis,” Carney said in a press release issued before his 1:45 p.m. weekly press conference.

The governor’s staff already had said Dr. Susan Bunting, secretary of the Delaware Department of Education; Dr. Rick Hong, medical director of the Delaware Division of Public Health and Dr. Rick Pescatore, chief physician of the Delaware Division of Public Health wold be guests.

“Our public health team will continue to work closely with district and school leaders to get this right. Hybrid learning may look different across each district, charter or private school,” Carney said in the release.

“But one thing is clear: the safety of all of Delaware’s students, educators and staff will be our top priority. We can’t get students back to school if we can’t do so safely. This is a science-based approach, and I want to thank everyone who participated in our working groups and put so much thought into this effort.”

Delaware is currently experiencing minimal to moderate spread of COVID-19 under criteria established by the Division of Public Health, which includes a review of weekly cases, percent positivity, and average daily hospitalizations, the press release said.

Three school reopening working groups created the green/yellow/red framework to reopen schools safely in Delaware. Last month, the Delaware Department of Education (DOE) also released guidance to assist district and charter leaders in safely reopening schools, including guidance on social distancing in schools, mask wearing, and transportation concerns.

Working with district and school leaders, the State of Delaware will provide free COVID-19 testing for educators and staff before the school year begins and in regular intervals following school reopening, using an at-home testing option. Community testing sites geared toward students will be set up at schools throughout the state in the weeks before schools open.

“We are committed to ensuring student, educator and staff safety as we navigate reopening schools,” said Hong in the press release. “We will continue to monitor the data closely to identify trends and provide schools with the best guidance possible based on that data.”

“Since school buildings closed in March, we have been working to return our children and educators to their classrooms as soon as we are able to safely and effectively do so,” said Bunting. “We will continue to support districts and charters as they design and implement their local plans under the hybrid model.” 

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