Talbot County Public Schools

Superintendent's Update | February 17, 2022 | #24

Upcoming Dates

February 18: Early Dismissal

February 21: Make-Up Snow Day - Schools are OPEN (President's Day)

February 22: Vaccine Incentive Cards Expire

February 24: WEBINAR: What Parents Need to Know about MD Coalition of Families Services (more information below)

March 16: Board of Education Meeting

Superintendent's Update 2-17-22
2-11-22 Actualización

Masking Update

Dear TCPS Families,

Recent trends in COVID-19 metrics and announcements from the Governor’s office have raised questions about our current policy requiring that masks be worn in all TCPS school buildings.

At this time, we will continue to follow the COMAR Regulations which require that that masks be worn in Maryland schools, with three specific “off-ramps” that would allow this requirement to be lifted.

COMAR 13A.01.07 Face Coverings in School Facilities

1. If at least 80 percent of the county population in the county where the schools are located is fully vaccinated, as reported by MDH, a county board or the governing authority of a public school that is not in a local school system, may lift the face-covering requirements by passing a motion or resolution in a public meeting.

Currently we are at 71.8% per TCHD as of 2/16/22.

2. The local superintendent may lift the face-covering requirement for a school facility or facilities after a principal or designated school official verifies that 80 percent of the school staff and students in the school facility have been fully vaccinated. The principal or designated school official submits a signed Department approved attestation form to the local superintendent, and the local superintendent then signs and submits the attestation form affirming the 80 percent vaccination rate to the State Superintendent of Schools.

None of our schools are close!

If either the 80 percent vaccination thresholds are achieved, the following transmission rate provisions and procedures for lifting and reinstating the face-covering requirements do not apply.

3. The local superintendent may lift the face-covering in schools requirements if the county has sustained 14 consecutive days of the moderate or low transmission rate of COVID-19 cases, as reported by the CDC. The local superintendent is required to reinstate the face-covering requirements if transmission rates of COVID-19 cases are substantial or higher for 14 consecutive days, as reported by the CDC.

Talbot County has been in HIGH community transmission rate since last August 2021, however the daily new cases per 100,000 are trending down at this time.

Attached is the most recent FAQ document from MSDE which provides more detailed information about the off-ramps, as well as links to CDC and state level COVID-19 data. Please also note that the Maryland State Board of Education may recommend changes to the mask mandate at a regular monthly meeting.

Thank you for your support!

Kelly L. Griffith, Ed.D.


Congratulations to our 2022 Teacher and Support Staff of the Year Finalists!

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Each year, Talbot County Public Schools honors teachers and support staff through the Teacher of the Year and Support Staff of the Year Program. This provides the opportunity to recognize outstanding educators who implement innovative ideas, focus positive attention on education, and demonstrate superior commitment to students and the community.

Any member of the community may nominate teachers or support staff for these prestigious awards. The nomination period runs from early January through the first week of February. A committee comprised of former Talbot Teachers of the Year reviews the resumes of all of the nominees who choose to formally apply and select the Teacher of the Year Finalists, which are announced in mid-February. Finalists prepare packets that highlight their work in their school and community. These packets are reviewed by the committee, and the Talbot Teacher of the Year is announced in early April.

At the same time, a separate committee reviews the Support Staff of the Year nominations and resumes and selects the finalists. This winner is also announced in early April. Four finalists have been selected from the nominations for Teacher of the Year and three were selected for Support Staff of the Year. TCPS is pleased to recognize these outstanding educators.

Teacher of the Year Finalists:

Lutisia (Tish) Blessing – Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, White Marsh Elementary
Kelley Cummings – First Grade Teacher, St. Michaels Elementary
Jeremy Hillyard – Spanish Teacher, Easton High
Katherine (Katie) Spies – Kindergarten Teacher, Easton Elementary

Support Staff of the Year Finalists:

Beverly Brooks – Instructional Assistant for Special Education, Easton High
Dena Decelle – Library Media Assistant, Tilghman Elementary
Berenice Orellana – Multilingual Family Liaison, Easton High

“These outstanding educators reflect the highest level of dedication to Talbot County children,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent. “They have all navigated the most challenging time in education with unwavering commitment and positive attitudes while maintaining high standards for their students and themselves. I would like to thank everyone who nominated members of our staff for this recognition and congratulate all of the nominees and finalists!”

The 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year and Support Staff of the year winners will be announced on April 8, 2022.

Congratulations to TCPS Musicians Selected for All Shore Band!

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Students from the Talbot County Public Schools (TCPS) secondary band programs recently auditioned for the Eastern Shore Band Director’s Association (ESBDA) Junior and Senior All-Shore Bands. Students from every county on the Eastern Shore of Maryland competed for limited spots. The performances were adjudicated by a member of the ESBDA, and students were assessed on tone, rhythm, dynamics, tempo, articulations and accidentals.

The following TCPS students were selected:

Easton Middle, directed by Mrs. Donna Ewing - Junior All-Shore

Flute: Cheyenne Branham, 8th; Varnika Lanka, 7th

Clarinet: Claire Adelman, 7th; Touryn Smith, 7th; Evelin Chum-Gomez, 7th

Bass Clarinet: Ludver Vasquex-Morales, 8th

Trumpet: Miles Chaney, 7th - 1st chair, Samantha Haas, 7th

Trombone: Riley Pederson, 7th - 1st chair, Nicholas Lesher, 7th

Percussion - Jonah Morris, 7th

Easton High, directed by Mr. EJ Oesterle - Senior All-Shore

Flute: Mara Stoyanov, 12th

Tenor Saxophone: Emma McCracken,10th

Trumpet: Will Ross, 12th

French Horn: Kate Adelman,10th

Trombone: John Schwaninger,10th - 1st chair; Julian Hutchison,10th

Euphonium: Matthew Craig, 10th - 1st chair

Percussion: Ryan Latham, 12th - 1st chair; Isaac Davis, 9th

Suicide Prevention Awareness Day

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TCPS students and staff recognized Suicide Prevention Awareness Day by wearing their TCPS Yellow Ribbon T-Shirts.

Schools remain on the front lines and are well-positioned to identify the social, emotional, and mental health needs of our youth. However, there’s no greater substitute for the role parents/guardians play in their child’s development and advocacy to access the necessary supports when needed. As a community, we can all work towards the early identification of mental health needs and to assist with reducing the national epidemic of youth suicide. Talbot County Public Schools has social workers on staff in addition to three mental health service providers for students and families should additional supports be needed.

The chief risk factor associated with suicide is the noticeable symptoms of depression. These may include feeling socially isolated, becoming withdrawn, loss of interest, increase in sleep, loss of energy, feeling hopeless, changes in appetite, feeling more sad than happy, changes in behavior (including irritableness or becoming more tearful), increase in risk taking behaviors (including experimentation with drugs/alcohol), and loss of previously enjoyed activities (this is not a complete list of symptoms).

If your child or family is struggling with any of the symptoms noted above, please do not hesitate to “Ask-4-Help” (Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program). Should you have questions or need more information, please call Dr. Rob Schmidt, Mental Health Coordinator for Talbot County Public Schools at 410-822-0330.

1. If Urgent Crisis call 911/Urgent 24/7
2. 24/7 Mobile Crisis Response 1-888-407-8018
3. Eastern Shore Psychological Services 410-822-5007
4. Bridges Behavioral Health 410-758-8750
5. Peace of Mind 410-690-8181
6. Maryland Helpline Call 211 then press 1
7. National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
8. For All Seasons 410-822-1018
9. Sun Behavioral Health (DE) -24-hour Assistance: (302) 604 – 5606

Black History Spotlight

During the month of February, we celebrate the achievements of black Americans. We will highlight some of the fantastic projects taking place across our county.

SMES Black History Month Fact of the Day

St Michaels Elementary is sharing a Black History Fact each morning in their zoom video announcements. Take a look at the video linked below to learn about the Tuskegee Airmen!
SMES Black History Month Fact of the Day

February is Career and Technical Education Month

What is CTE?

Career and technical education, or CTE, is education that directly prepares students for high-wage, high-demand careers. CTE encompasses many different types of education, from classroom learning to certification programs to work-based learning opportunities outside the classroom.

TCPS CTE Programs include: Agriculture, Automotive Tech, Biomedical Science, Carpentry, Certified Nursing Assistant, Computer Science, Culinary Arts & Cosmetology, Firefighter and Emergency Medical Responder, Interactive Media Production, Marketing, Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC), Teacher Academy of Maryland.

CTE In Action

Tom Ellis, CTE Engineering Instructor, explains how his students are engaging in the engineering program and using the 3-D software and printer for real-world projects.
Tom Ellis, CTE Engineering Instructor
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Feb 24, 2022 03:00 PM


Please join us in attending a webinar on how MD Coalition of Families can help your family with substance use concerns. Registration is required. Q&A will be at the end.

Guest speaker: Anne Marie Izzi - Family Peer Support Specialist Substance Use.
Other speaker: Madison Elliott - Substance-Use Specialist/Coordinator at TCPS

If you have any questions please contact:
Madison Elliott
Substance-Use Specialist/Coordinator
Talbot County Public Schools


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Updated Guidelines for Isolation and Quarantine

The CDC has released updated recommendations for Isolation and Quarantine for COVID-19. Beginning Thursday, January 6, 2022, TCPS will follow a modified process for students and staff (This document was updated 1/7/2022)



Below is a list of COVID information that has been recently released


  • New COVID testing site at UM Shore Medical Pavilion, 500 Cadmus Lane Easton MD 21601. Drive Through. Open Monday-Sunday 9 AM to 3 PM. PCR tests with results in 24-48 hours.
  • Free at-home covid tests via USPS. Every home is eligible for four tests and orders will ship in 7-12 days. Order them here
  • The local health department gets rapid at-home covid tests delivered every other week in extremely low quantities. The public can get them from the library if/when they are available.
  • Local pharmacies are getting at-home covid tests in stock. I recommend calling ahead of time to see if they are in stock before going to purchase them.
  • The Health Department is still testing at their test site at 28712 Glebe Road Easton MD 21601 Monday through Friday 9 AM to 2:30 PM. Appointments are required and do fill up very fast. You can call 410-819-5632 to make an appointment.

· **When taking at-home covid tests, you can report your results here**


· The health department has distributed KN95 masks throughout the community to be available to the public. You can pick yours up at the Health Department (100 Hanson St.), the Vaccine Center (102 Marlboro Ave.), or at the county libraries.


  • Where: Talbot County Vaccine Center, 102 Marlboro Ave Easton MD
  • When: Monday through Friday 10 AM to 6 PM

5-11-year-olds on Fridays, no appointment required

· Who: Anyone 5 years old and older

5-11-year-olds are eligible for their Pfizer vaccine which is available on Fridays, no appointment required

  • Pfizer: Anyone 12 years and older
  • Moderna: Anyone 18 years and older
  • J&J: Anyone 18 years and older


Anyone 12 years and older who is at least 5 months after their second shot


· When to go to the ER – Shore Regional Health

· Choptank Community Health COVID Info

· Choptank Community Health COVID Answers – Q&A Videos

· Emergency Rental Assistance Program

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Bullying and cyberbullying, harassment and intimidation, hazing, and/or bias behaviors are unsafe behaviors that do not reflect respect for others as defined by Policy 10.16 on STUDENT CONDUCT – BULLYING, HARASSMENT OR INTIMIDATION . If a student is a target of one of these behaviors, you can report it using the Bullying, Harassment, or Intimidation Reporting Form (linked below).

The form is also available at all schools, in the main office and the school’s counseling office. Students can also report issues directly to a staff member. When a situation that involves any of these behaviors is reported, staff members will respond quickly and will provide a practical, private, and safe place to report.


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