Kyle Edgar, who attends Ridgely Middle School in Baltimore County, persuaded his mother to allow him to miss school, and layered four jerseys — Lewis, Rice, Ngata and Suggs — to keep warm.

"There's like 1,000 days of school," Edgar said. "And this might not ever happen again."

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz attended the festivities at City Hall with his two sons, ages 9 and 11.

"I got them back [to school] for the rest of the day," said Kamenetz, whose boys attend Gilman School. "They only missed a couple hours. I would hope it would not be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but just in case it was for them, I wanted them to get the opportunity to see that."

The Anne Arundel County school system, which usually notes between 4,000 and 4,500 students absent, saw its numbers creep up to 5,780 Friday as the state prepared for the big game. On Monday, after the big win, the number rose to 6,600; on Tuesday, the number rose to 6,750. Staff absences were normal.

"While I'm not a doctor and there are a lot of illnesses going around, it certainly appears that we are seeing more than a few cases of purple flu," quipped Bob Mosier, spokesman for Anne Arundel's schools. "This seems to be affecting our students more than our teachers, and we wish all of them a speedy recovery."

Howard County school officials said that teacher absences were above average for this time of year, and student absentee rates reached 10 percent at three schools and 13 percent at one school Tuesday.

Though not all schools had reported, by 3 p.m. Harford County schools had an 89 percent attendance rate, down from their normal average of about 96 percent, said a spokeswoman, Teri Kranefeld.

However, the city schools' union leaders were outraged by the district's request that principals submit the names of teachers and administrators who were absent in order to penalize them.

When asked about the complaint, the school system said it had called schools to see if they were appropriately staffed in case it needed to send personnel.

"Why pick this one particular day to do that?" said Jimmy Gittings, president of the city's principal union. "To make a decision like that when the mayor, the governor, every politician in this state was celebrating a victory that put this city on the map is despicable and made us look like we have no concern or care for the employees in our system."

Baltimore Sun reporters Alison Knezevich, Kevin Rector and Yvonne Wenger contributed to this article.

erica.green@baltsun.com

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