Middle school redistricting in Charles County is one step closer to reality after Superintendent Maria Navarro made her selection for the alternative that would move forward.

During the Charles school board meeting on Tuesday, Navarro picked alternative A to be the choice to move forward in redrawing enrollment borders for the county’s eight middle schools.

“Plan A has the least amount of student movement and maximizes the utilization of existing facilities,” Navarro said in making her selection.

The enrollment scheme seeks to redraw the borders by bringing as many schools under their state rated capacities as possible when the measure takes effect during the 2022-2023 school year.

The biggest district to see change under Plan A is a massive reduction in the school zone for Milton Somers Middle School.

The massive western zone that includes Cedar Point Neck will be removed and given over to Smallwood Middle School.

The west side of La Plata will also be divided, with the northern half given over to Smallwood Middle and the southern portion to Piccowaxen Middle.

The new Stoddert Middle enrollment zone gains seven blocks along Old Washington Road and Smallwood Drive that used to be attributed to John Hanson Middle School.

One enrollment block along St. Charles Parkway also moves to Stoddert Middle.

Residents will have another opportunity to sound off on redistricting before the board of education makes the final decision in October.

An in-person public hearing on redistricting will take place Sept. 27 at Westlake High School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with a virtual hearing slated for Sept. 28 from 6 to 8 p.m.

An interactive map is available for parents to see how redistricting will effect their students next school year, and includes various maps and filters to show how districts will change. Interested residents should visit the middle school redistricting page on the Charles County Board of Education website for more information.

Lunch shifts now include QR codes

With the school year in full swing, schools have become the latest institutions to grapple with how to socially distance while still conducting regular business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Henry E. Lackey High School Principal Kathy Perriello and Billingsley Elementary School Principal Sabrina Robinson-Taylor at Tuesday’s school board meeting gave examples on how they were keeping students safe.

Students at Lackey began the year on a four-shift lunch period divided by grade to keep cafeteria numbers low. Perriello said the lunch shifts allowed students to get used to a QR code system used to track students when they enter the lunch room.

Students scan a QR code at their table before they are released to get food in order to track location and quantity of students at each table. Phones or laptops can be used to register their location at lunch. Lunch has since moved to a three-shift system based on the location of the students sixth period classroom.

Perriello said the school will remain at the “phase 2” lunch shift until they get to 90% QR code usage. Students will then return to a traditional one-hour lunch period.

Robinson-Taylor said that Billingsley Elementary has spread out desks, made use of multiple doors for entrances and created multiple breakfast pickup areas to keep students from congregating.

Some classes, such as physical education and science classes, have gone outside to keep students from sitting inside for too long.

Despite changes, the system has had challenges with students coming to school sick.

Jason Stoddard, director of school safety and security, said that the school system needs parents to help with ensuring guidelines are followed.

“If we tell a student that you’ve been exposed, we need them to do the things that are right,” he said.

Twitter: @DarrylSoMdNews

Twitter: @DarrylSoMdNews