Gov. John Carney and the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced on Thursday, Dec. 3, a new Stay-at-Home advisory, strongly advising all Delawareans to avoid gathering indoors with anyone outside your household from Dec. 14 through Jan. 11, 2021, in order to interrupt the dangerous winter surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Delaware. The advisory does not apply to Delawareans in workplaces, and traveling to and from their places of work.

In addition to the Stay-at-Home advisory, Carney and DPH will institute a universal mask mandate statewide, requiring Delawareans to wear a cloth face covering anytime they are indoors with anyone outside their immediate household.

Delaware has had a public mask mandate since April 28 requiring Delawareans and visitors to wear a cloth face covering in public settings where social distancing is not possible. (Children 2-years-old or younger MUST NOT wear a face covering, due to the risk of suffocation.)

Carney is also recommending that Delaware schools pause in-person learning beginning Dec. 14, use virtual learning through Jan. 8, and return to hybrid learning on Jan. 11, 2021. This will allow schools to plan operationally for the second half of the 2020-2021 school year.

The recommendation does not apply to child care centers. Schools that do not face significant operational challenges may remain in hybrid learning, with a mix of remote and in-person instruction.

Winter sports competitions will be prohibited from Dec. 14 to Jan. 11, but practices may continue under strict COVID-19 masking and social distancing guidelines.

Gov. John Carney with face mask 1

Delaware Gov. John Carney wears a cloth face mask on April 9, 2020, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Delaware Department of Education will be meeting with educators and their district leadership or charter representatives to discuss any concerns or questions they may have. Educators may also share their experiences and feedback by sending an email to Educator.Feedback@doe.k12.de.us.

“A vaccine is on the way but, make no mistake, we are facing the most difficult few months of this crisis,” said Carney. “I know we’re all tired of COVID-19 – but it’s not tired of us. We’re pleading with Delawareans to do the right thing. Wear a mask. It’s a simple sacrifice to protect others, and to make sure that Delaware’s children get an education. Do not gather with anyone outside your household. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.”

“We know that schools are structured and relatively safe environments. That’s thanks to the hard work of educators, students and staff who have been following the science, and keeping their communities healthy,” said Carney.

Scientifically, “there is not really a public health reason to close schools right now. And I believe strongly that students learn better in person. However, we live in a complicated world and a complicated time, and it’s clear to me that there are operational needs that make considering a brief pause a good idea,” he continued in a written message.

USA, Delaware, POW/MIA flag

The American, Delaware and POW/MIA flags with the moon at the American Legion Post 24 In Dagsboro.

“Educators, school nurses, and administrators need a chance to figure those challenges out and regroup. And the Division of Public Health can use this time to retool and streamline its school-related procedures. School personnel are not immune to the effects of rising community spread, and as more school personnel are forced to quarantine, it becomes increasingly difficult for schools to operate.”

Carney’s full message was published online (https://news.delaware.gov/2020/12/03/message-from-governor-carney-on-covid-19).

Carney will formalize the advisory and universal mask mandate in a forthcoming revision to the omnibus COVID-19 emergency order (https://governor.delaware.gov/health-soe/twenty-seventh-modification-state-of-emergency-declaration).

Anyone with a question about COVID-19 should call Delaware 2-1-1. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Also on Dec. 3, Cape May-Lewes Ferry announced that it will suspend foot and bicycle passenger travel beginning Monday, Dec. 7, until further notice. This 'proactive, but difficult' decision was made for the safety of guests and staff. Also, the indoor salon seating area of the vessel will not be accessible, and the Cape May Terminal will be closed (except for restrooms).

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