DPH And DOE Encourage Students To Test For COVID-19 Before Returning To School After Spring Break

DOVER, DE (April 14, 2022) – Spring break for most Delaware schools will occur the week of April 18.  The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) and the Delaware Department of Education (DOE) are strongly encouraging families to test students for COVID-19 before their return to school following spring break using either over-the-counter (OTC) test kits or visiting a convenient testing location.  With the lifting of certain COVID-19 restrictions and mandates, many individuals are once again holding family gatherings or have scheduled travel plans this year.  Since you never know if the people around you might be positive for COVID-19 even without showing any symptoms, the best way to know your status and to keep classmates and teachers safe is to test the day before you return to school. This is especially true as Delaware starts to see a slight increase in COVID-19 cases.

DPH distributed approximately 190,000 OTC test kits to school districts, charter schools, and private/parochial schools this month. While some schools may choose to keep them for in-school testing purposes, others may choose to distribute them to families to make it easier for students to test before their return to school after the break.

Other convenient testing options include ordering free at-home COVID-19 test kits (four to five tests in a kit) from the federal government at covidtests.gov, purchasing them from pharmacies, or finding a testing site near you at de.gov/gettested.

“We’re pleased to partner with the Department of Education and school districts statewide to offer families peace of mind and a way for parents to know their child’s COVID-19 status before they go back to school at the end of this month,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.

“Our educators, students and families are grateful that, after two years of intermittent remote learning and quarantines, having everyone back in our buildings full time has made this spring feel more like a ‘typical’ school year,” Secretary of Education Mark Holodick said. “As families and staff travel over the break, I encourage everyone to continue mitigation strategies to reduce their risk of exposure and to test themselves before they return to school. This will help us finish this school year in the face-to-face instruction we are so happy to have back.”

In addition to testing before returning to school, families are encouraged to seek testing for their children when a student has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, has COVID-19 symptoms, or wishes to know their status before spending time with a person who is vulnerable to COVID-19 (e.g., immunocompromised, elderly, or unvaccinated). 

Spring break also is a great time to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations for those who have not yet received their first or second dose or a booster when eligible. 

“Cases have slightly increased over the last week.  We know COVID is not over,” said Dr. Rattay.  “Right now is actually the perfect time to make sure everyone is up to date on their vaccines to protect themselves and their community.” 

Keep these four simple tips in mind as your anytime COVID prevention toolkit:

  • Get vaccinated (including getting your booster) when eligible.
  • Wear a mask in areas of high COVID-19 transmission. Use the CDC’s Tool for identifying COVID-19 transmission levels. Also consider wearing a mask around others if you are unvaccinated, immunocompromised, or around people who are.
  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed to someone with COVID, or weekly if you are not up to date on your vaccines.
  • Stay home from work or school when sick.


Anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf-Blind or speech disabled can contact DPH by dialing 711 first using specialized devices (i.e. TTY, TeleBraille, voice devices). The 711 service is free and to learn more about how it works, please visit delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.

Governor Carney Signs 25th Modification to State of Emergency Declaration

Updated order formalizes mask guidance for children, requires schools to notify families of positive cases 

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed the 25th modification to his State of Emergency declaration, formalizing new face covering requirements for children. The modification also requires Delaware schools to notify families if they become aware of positive cases of COVID-19 in their schools. 

Click here to read Governor Carney’s modification. 

“Delawareans are beating this virus and driving our numbers down. But if we hope to get more children and educators back in school, and more Delawareans back to work, we need to stay vigilant, ” said Governor Carney. “Wear a face mask. Wash your hands frequently. Stay at least six feet away from others. Stay home if you’re sick. And – whether you have symptoms or you don’t – consider getting a test at de.gov/gettested.” 

The modification also suspends formal observations under the DPAS II system until November 1, and directs the Department of Education to work with educators to develop a modified system for tracking student growth, taking into account the challenges of remote and hybrid learning.  For the months of September and October, the Department of Education will work with districts, charters, and educators on informal observation strategies and ensure educators are receiving feedback and administrators are giving feedback in a new way given the challenges presented by hybrid and remote learning.

Anyone with a question about COVID-19, whether related to medical or social service needs, 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.

Questions can also be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov.

Report violations of COVID-19 restrictions by emailing HSPContact@delaware.gov

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.


Arbor Day 2019: Poster Contest Winners and Community Events

Ellie Merrick, a fifth-grader at Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville, won the 2019 Arbor Day School Poster Contest.

Almost 100 years before Earth Day, Arbor Day was established on April 10, 1872 by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska City, Nebraska. It is believed more than one million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day. In Delaware, Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in April, which falls on April 26, 2019. This year, the Delaware Forest Service will help Dover celebrate its 30th Anniversary as a Tree City USA by planting more than 30 trees at parks and streets throughout the city.

DOVER, Del. — Ellie Merrick, a 5th-grader at Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville, has been named the State Winner of the Delaware Forest Service’s 2019 Arbor Day Poster Contest. This year’s theme – “Trees Are Terrific…in Cities and Towns!” – was chosen to highlight the benefits of trees in our communities .The annual Arbor Day Poster Contest is open to Delaware students in grades K-5 in all public, private, charter, and home schools. Winners receive a tree-themed book, a free tree planting ceremony at their school (courtesy of sponsor Delmarva Power) and an invitation for them and their families to attend the State Arbor Day Ceremony with Governor Carney in Dover on April 26.

Winners were selected by a panel of judges for each county (New Castle, Kent, Sussex) in the following grade categories: kindergarten, grades 1-2, grades 3-4, and grade 5. Posters were judged on originality, use of theme, neatness, and artistic expression. The Arbor Day Poster Contest is designed to teach students about the role of trees and their direct impact on the health and well-being of Delaware residents.

View the complete gallery of 2019 Delaware Arbor Day Poster Contest Winners.

2019 Delaware Arbor Day Poster Contest Winners

New Castle  
Kindergarten Avery Thomas — Cedar Lane Early Childhood Ctr., Middletown
Grades 1-2 Lydia Sperati — Jennie Smith Elementary, Newark
Grades 3-4 Patricia Gomes —  All Saints Catholic School, Wilmington
Grade 5 Jayden Fuller  — Brandywine Springs Elementary, Wilmington
Kindergarten Abigail Carter — McIlvaine Early Childhood Ctr., Magnolia
Grades 1-2 Bella Cooper — Allen Frear Elementary, Camden
Grades 3-4 Sarah Armstrong —  Allen Frear Elementary, Camden
Grade 5 Sophia Yuckel  — Allen Frear Elementary, Camden
Kindergarten Loana Marquez Mendez — H.O. Brittingham Elem., Milton
Grades 1-2 Zoe Bontrager-Thomas — Mispillion Elementary, Milford
Grades 3-4 Ava Strong — Southern Delaware School of Arts, Selbyville
Grade 5 Ellie Merrick  — Southern Delaware School of Arts, Selbyville


The Delaware Forest Service also distributes free pine seedlings annually to Delaware elementary school children on a first-come, first-served basis. Once again, RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) volunteers from the Modern Maturity Center of Dover help to wrap thousands of seedlings to distribute to schoolchildren throughout the First State.

RSVP volunteers seedling wrap
Volunteers from Dover’s Modern Maturity Center RSVP Program  helped wrap thousands of pine seedlings for Delaware schoolchildren for Arbor Day activities.

Planned 2019 Arbor Day Events in Delaware

  • City of New Castle
    Friday April 26 – 10 a.m. – 4th & Chestnut, New Castle
    Tree planting and Arbor Day Ceremony
  • Delaware State University, Dover
    Friday April 26 – 11 a.m. – MLK, Jr. Student Center
    “Arbor Day Tree Planting on DSU Campus”
  • City of Lewes – 150th Arbor Day Celebration
    Saturday, April 27 at 10 a.m. – George H.P. Smith Park – Arbor Day Planting
    *** Also: free tree seminar at the Margaret H. Rollins Community Center at 111 Adams Ave.  
  • Town of Ocean View
    Friday, April 26, 2019 at 2 p.m. – John West Park
    Town of Ocean View Celebrates Arbor Day” – John West Park, 32 West Ave., Ocean View. Boy Scouts from Troop 281 will assist members of the Ocean View Town Council in planting several trees in the Park. There will be educational engagement opportunities and some fun Arbor Day activities for families until 6 p.m. including a youth art project and family photo-ops sporting Hug-A-Tree and Earth Day themes! The first 50 interested participants will get a free redbud seedling.
  • Bayside, Fenwick Island
    Friday, April 26 – 9:00 a.m. – 31252 Americana Pkwy., Selbyville
    Arbor Day Event and Tree Planting
  • City of Rehoboth Beach
    Arbor Day Tree Planting
    Monday, April 29 – Rehoboth Beach Elementary School
  • City of Milford – 16th Annual Bug & Bud Festival
    Saturday, May 4 – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Walnut St., Front Streets and the Mispillion Riverwalk in historic downtown Milford, Delaware.
    Expected to attract more than 9,000 visitors this year, the Bug & Bud Festival serves as a celebration of Arbor Day, the City of Milford’s designation as a Tree City U.S.A. and Milford’s role in the ladybug’s designation as the State Bug of Delaware.

2019 Delaware Arbor Day School Poster Contest

The Delaware Forest Service’s Arbor Day School Poster Contest is now accepting entries from Delaware students in grades K to 5 in all private, public, charter, and home schools. Winners will be selected from each county in the following grade categories: K, 1-2, 3-4, and 5. Awards will be presented at the State Arbor Day Ceremony with Governor John Carney. Winners also receive a tree-themed book, a poster reproduction on fine art canvas, and a free tree planting ceremony at their school.  The Delaware Forest Service also distributes free pine seedlings to participating classes on a first-come, first-served basis.

The annual Arbor Day Poster Contest is designed to teach students about forests and forest resources. Participating in the contest is a way to learn more about the role of trees in our state and their direct impact on the health and well-being of Delaware residents.

This year’s theme – “Trees Are Terrific…in Cities and Towns!” – is designed to increase knowledge about the benefits of trees in our communities. While many people plant trees to provide fruit, beauty, or shade, the benefits of trees – especially in cities and towns – go far beyond those things. Trees are invaluable assets that provide numerous social, environmental and economic benefits such as lower energy costs, cleaner air and water, and increased property values.

2019 THEME
“Trees are Terrific…in Cities and Towns!”

Posters will be judged on originality, use of theme, neatness, and artistic expression.

Deadline to register: March 15, 2019
Deadline to submit posters: March 29, 2019

Rules and guidelines for teachers: 2019 Poster Guidelines and Rules

To register and request seedlings: 2019 Poster Contest Registration Link

Check out the previous year’s winners:

For more information, email: Ashley Melvin

Woodbridge FFA takes first in forestry career development event

CAMDEN, Del.  — Woodbridge High School’s FFA took the top spot at the 2018 Forestry Career Development Event (CDE) held in Camden, Delaware this week.  Middletown took second place, followed by Smyrna and Sussex Central. Woodbridge now goes on to represent Delaware at the 91st Annual FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis from October 24 to 27, 2018. For the first time, the 2018 challenge included eight middle and high school teams competing in separate events at the same location. Smyrna Middle School’s FFA took first place among middle schools, beating out Alfred G. Waters Middle School (Appoquinimink), Everett Meredith Middle School (Appoquinimink), and Millsboro Middle School. More photos are available (see below) or on Flickr.

Woodbridge High School’s winning FFA forestry team: Advisor Scott Haldeman in back with (front row, from left) Carissa Tinsman, Cristina Limon-Gutierrez, Stephanie Vera, and Danny Morales-Rivera. Woodbridge placed first in the forestry career development event (CDE) held at Brecknock County Park in Camden on June 19. Eight Delaware middle and high school teams participated. Woodbridge will now go to the National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis in October.

The forestry event was held at Kent County’s Brecknock Park under the direction of Delaware Forest Service education specialist Ashley Melvin, who oversaw the competition for her tenth time. The challenge is designed to measure student knowledge in six separate skill areas: identification of trees, forest pests, and diseases, equipment and mapping, timber stand improvement, compass and pacing, board-foot volume estimation, and an individual written examination.

Woodbridge FFA forestry team
Woodbridge FFA students use a Biltmore stick to estimate a tree’s height during the forestry career development event at Brecknock Park in Camden.  Pictured (from left) are: from left) Carissa Tinsman, Cristina Limon-Gutierrez, Stephanie Vera, and Danny Morales-Rivera. The team placed first and will be in Indianoplis for the National FFA Convention & Expo from October 24 to 27.

The National FFA Organization considers itself the “premier youth organization dedicated to preparing members for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture.” According to FFA, members are driven by the organization’s foundational motto: “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.” The goal is to prepare students to “support and contribute to future sustainability in farming, science, medicine, and business alike.” The National FFA organization provides leadership and personal growth opportunities through agricultural education to more than 650,000 student members belonging to 8,500 local FFA chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.


Smyrna Middle School FFA forestry team
Smyrna Middle School’s FFA won their event at the 2018 Forestry Career Development Event (CDE) at Brecknock County Park in Camden. From left, Advisor Stefanie Freimuth, Isabella McMullen, Evan Denney, Marissa Dunn, and Sarah Dinsmore.


Middletown FFA
Middletown FFA team member (from left) Will Thornburg watches as Ryan Freeburg measures a tree during the 2018 Forestry Career Development Event (CDE) at Brecknock County Park in Camden this week.


Middletown FFA
Middletown FFA team placed second in the forestry career event, led by (from left) advisor Jeffrey Billings, Ryan Freeburg, Will Thornburg, Max Myers, and Alex Nichols.


Smyrna High School FFA forestry team
Smyrna High School’s FFA team placed third in the 2018 forestry competition. From left, Smyrna HS FFA Advisor Jay Davis, Rebecca Calderon, Skylar Campanicki, Kassey Euren, and Taylor Davis.


Sussex Central FFA
Sussex Central FFA participated in this week’s Forestry Career Development Event in Camden.  From left, Jason Stoeckel, Kody Lankford, Brandon Greenlee, Will Kenney, Corey Agresta, and Brett Hines.