Coronavirus forces county schools to shut their doors

At the board of education meeting on Thursday, Calvert County Superintendent of Schools Daniel Curry said he hoped he wouldn’t have to close schools due to the COVID-19 virus but that things “were changing hour by hour.”
And a few hours later, the decision was made by State School Superintendent Karen Salmon to close all schools statewide for at least the next two weeks.
“It sure did change,” Superintendent of Schools Daniel J. Curry said of the decision, which came following a statewide conference call with superintendents.
“But I wasn’t necessarily surprised because we didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “Certainly all school superintendents had heard from some citizens that wondered why we weren’t [closed], and I think it is hard to make such a move in one school district all alone when you haven’t even had one reported case. But in the end, I support the move, and it’s a good idea.”
The move affects 15,463 students at 24 schools but does not reflect Pre-K students. “We are emphasizing with our staff that the purpose is not that we have germs all over the school, and we need to disinfect because that’s true every day at school. You always have that,” Curry said. “The issue is social distancing and slowing down the progress of the coronavirus, and we’re doing that by removing opportunities for large groups of people to get together.”
Maryland’s were among the first schools in the country to close. Since then, 37states have moved to cancel classes.
Curry said he’s hoping the two-week closure will be plenty.
“That certainly would be our hope,” he said. “Best case scenario is that we would be back to school on March 30. That would be great. That would be our hope.”
Regarding any new policies, once schools reopen, Curry said, “We’ll see” but added the district would be working closely with the health department.
“We will still count on a close collaboration with the health department, and we will no doubt be encouraging hand washing and those typical kinds of issues,” he said. “The big thing I’m communicating with the staff is we’re not closing schools to clean schools; we’re closing schools to disperse the population, so everybody’s not on top of each other for two weeks, and hopefully it will slow down the spread.”
Calvert County students are scheduled to go on spring break April 8-13, and then school is scheduled to close on June 11.
“We have communicated with staff that you should consider this your spring break because we will be planning on making these days up, and the first [free days] to go will be spring break,” he said. “And the rest [of the days that need to be made up] added to the end of the year unless the state extends some dispensation and a change in the rules for makeups [days] because of the special circumstances.”
Curry also clarified the fact that 12-month employees must stay in their respective schools during the two weeks.
“All 12-month employees are expected to work, but we’re also giving them liberal leave,” he said. “No one is forced to stay in the building, but we have to keep in mind that the primary focus of this is social distancing. Almost all of our building service workers are 12 month [employees], so they’re all going to be cleaning.”
Curry also added that principals and other administrators and at least one secretary at each school are 12-month employees. There are no teachers that fall in that category.
Curry said the outpouring of support from the community regarding food for students who need it has been enormous.
“We have been inundated with calls from community organizations and churches wanting to be sure that children who need food can get food, so it is certainly encouraging to know that the community is mindful of ‘How can we help?’” he said. “At this point, we are developing a plan for making food available for those children who may need it. There are many children who count on breakfast and lunch every day during the school year and also many who receive backpacks to take home full of food provided by local organizations and churches to help them over the weekend.”
On Monday, Curry said the board has been purchasing pre-packaged meals and said officials in charge of school lunch programs have stated that distribution may only take place in zones that have been identified as high poverty.
Curry said the county has three specific zones; in the White Sands and Chesapeake Ranch Estates communities in Lusby and in Prince Frederick, where food will be distributed.
Curry also said the county will be doing drive-up food distribution, but added there are many regulations where that is involved, such as the students must be present, and it can only be done daily. He also added that food banks such as End Hunger have been “stepping up and helping out and filling in some of the gaps.”
Curry said he hopes to have plans are in place to start providing food for those who need it by Wednesday.
Calvert Recorder

Calvert County Public Schools Community

End Hunger In Calvert County is beginning free food distribution to families on March 16. Please see the letter below for information about receiving food, making donations, and opportunities to volunteer. Thank you, and please share this information with those who do not have internet access.
Dear Calvert County,
A lot of children in our county will not have food to eat over the next two weeks because they receive free or reduced meals at school.
While there will be grab-n-go lunches at three locations in the county – notice at end – this will not come close to meeting the children’s’ need. Most of our county’s neediest children do not have any transportation to get to the food sites, and even then, the lunches will only go so far.
Starting this Monday, End Hunger In Calvert County, working through local food pantry partners, will be distributing a FREE 4 day supply of breakfasts & lunches called Kid’s Kits.
The challenge is to get these food kits to the children. This is where you come in.
If you know where these children live, please come and pick up a Kid’s Kit and deliver it to a child’s home. You can pick up one kit per child and the child does not have to be with you.
Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry in Huntingtown, will have these kits available for community pick-ups on their lower level porch (drive around back), from 9 am-12 pm on:

  • Monday, March 16
  • Friday, March 20
  • Monday, March 23
  • Friday, March 27

Helping Hands Food Pantry (in New Life Calvert Church on 231) will start providing the Kid’s Kits to pick-up starting Friday, March 20. If the school closings go past that date, we will continue distributing food for the children.
In addition, various county food pantries are gearing up to provide boxed cereals, peanut butter and jelly, as well as oatmeal and juices for pick up. All pantries will be maintaining their regular hours during this emergency.
For a listing of End Hunger Food Pantry Partners go to:
For people wishing to donate food – here is what we need specifically:

  • shelf stable milk (4, 8 oz)
  • single serve, cereal (4, 1 oz)
  • single serve, flip top fruit (4, 4 oz)
  • single serve, flip top lunch meals of mini ravioli, beans & franks, beef stew, and or beef lasagna (4, 7.5 oz)
  • granola bars and/or goldfish crackers (8 bars of variety sizes)

Donations of any of the above products can be dropped off on the lower level of Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry or at Chesapeake Church – where you see the End Hunger boxes.
To make a financial donation please go to:
Anyone wishing to volunteer to help sort, box and distribute food for children, please contact Kelly Chambers at the United Way of Calvert County:
It is going to take a county-wide commitment to reach our neediest children.
Remember, many of them will have little or no access to food starting this Monday. If you know where some of these children live, please pick up a Kid’s Kit and deliver it to them.
As the situation changes or more resources become available End Hunger will be sure to get the word out on social media.
Thank you for out pouring of love and concern. You are what makes Calvert County great. It is my privilege to serve our county with you. Let’s feed our children!
Jacqueline Miller President
Blessings, Robert P. Hahn

Students, adults, mobilize to fight ‘distancing’ hunger

It was supposed to be “The Year of End Hunger” in Calvert County. However, as it is globally, the coronavirus appears to have claimed 2020 for its own.
The county’s army of volunteers are undaunted.
On Tuesday, End Hunger in Calvert County had its hands extended and anything but idle as a crew comprised of mostly local middle school students bagged packages of nonperishable food to distribute to fellow students who, due to the lengthy closure of school, are doing without the system’s daily meal.
The group gathered in the early afternoon at the organization’s warehouse at the Calvert County Industrial Park.
“We’re going to keep going until they go back to school,” said the Rev. Robert P. Hahn, the senior pastor of Chesapeake Church.
The church’s effort to aid local working families who couldn’t afford to buy adequate supplies of food was started in 2007 and has grown into a nonprofit association comprised of over 50 business and community leaders.
The draconian measures imposed by state government and public education officials in response to the infectious disease have many locals staying home in isolation, referred to euphemistically as “social distancing.” Not all workers can stay in confinement at their homes.
Hahn noted that in Calvert, “some of our neediest kids are from homes where both parents are still working.”
“I had free time,” said Miyann Coleman of Huntingtown, a sixth-grader at Plum Point Middle School. “I had a friend who couldn’t buy lunch meals at school.”
Coleman was part of the assembly line of volunteers placing items such as shelf-stable milk, bottled water and canned beef stew in the distribution bags.
“I’m here because I want to help people,” said Dilana Winter of Lusby, a seventh-grader at Southern Middle School, who added she has previously resided and volunteered in other communities prior to her family’s move to Calvert. “During this time, people don’t have food and this is a good way to help. Anyone who needs food can get help.”
Prince Frederick resident Antoine White admitted in the challenging economic times that the coronavirus has presented for him and his colleagues in the mortgage and finance business, it might be easier to spend the day working harder to turn things around.
Instead, White was among the adult volunteers preparing stored, nonperishable food for delivery and distribution.
“I think this is more important,” said White. “It’s important to give back.”
White was kept busy cutting open boxes of food to place on the assembly line. “I’m basically a six-foot-five stock boy today,” White joked.
“We’re behind the scenes,” said Hahn, adding that volunteers referred to the organization by United Way and Calvert County Public Schools were working to get the food to the children from low-income homes.
The food made available for distribution at the warehouse was headed for distribution sites at several public schools.
“Otherwise, these kids would be hungry,” Hahn said. “I think they [volunteers] are doing 3,000 meals today.”
The youth from struggling families, Hahn indicated, are feeling the hunger pains due to common misperceptions in Calvert. “People don’t understand ‘rural hunger,’ ” said Hahn. “It’s hidden.”
The pastor also affirmed that the problems caused by the recent panic buying in retail grocery stores aren’t due to a dwindling supply of food.
“The stores are dealing with a problem of food availability, not a food shortage,” said Hahn.
End Hunger in Calvert, Hahn said, is getting steady aid and food supplies from the Maryland Food Bank. “We need it long-term,” he said. “This is going to be longer than two weeks.”
Hahn said End Hunger could always use more volunteers, although on Tuesday, he admitted, “at one point we had too many volunteers.” Facing school closings that could exceed the original two-week timeline, Hahn said in the long run, more volunteer help will be essential.
Monetary contributions are also needed. “All of our money goes straight to food,” said Hahn, adding that “we are circumventing the stores.”
For more information on End Hunger in Calvert County, go to
Calvert Recorder