Monday, with schools closed due to a snowstorm, Baltimore County Public Schools said nearly a dozen more schools would be going virtual in the coming week due to COVID-19 infections and related staffing concerns.
A total of 28 of the system’s 178 schools will only be offering online classes this week — some just for certain grade levels— amid a statewide rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations — and a growing testing positivity rate.
At least one of the institutions closing, the Ridge Ruxton School, specifically serves students with disabilities. That school will be closed through Jan. 14. Northwest Academy of Health Sciences in the Pikesville area won’t resume in-person courses until Jan. 18.
Here is a list of Baltimore County schools set to move to virtual learning for this week:
- Carroll Manor Elementary School (grade 4 only)
- Chapel Hill Elementary School
- Deer Park Middle Magnet School
- Dulaney High School
- Dundalk High School
- Edgemere Elementary School (preschool program only)
- Fullerton Elementary School
- Lansdowne High School
- Lansdowne Middle School
- Logan Elementary School (prekindergarten only)
- Lyons Mills Elementary School (grade 5 only)
- Milford Mill Academy
- New Town High School
- Northwest Academy of Health Sciences (virtual through Jan. 17)
- Parkville High School
- Parkville Middle School
- Randallstown High School
- Red House Run Elementary School (prekindergarten only)
- Ridge Ruxton School (virtual through Jan. 14)
- Riverview Elementary School
- Sandalwood Elementary School
- Scotts Branch Elementary School
- Stemmers Run Middle School (grade 6 only)
- Timber Grove Elementary School
- Victory Villa Elementary School (kindergarten only)
- Westowne Elementary School
- Woodholme Elementary School
- Woodlawn High School
In a Sunday bulletin, Baltimore County Public Schools said it considered the numbers of staff members and students testing positive as well as the number of those quarantining due to possible COVID-19 exposures. School officials also took into account staff vacancies, according to the bulletin.
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Infections in the state have reached record-breaking totals over the past month, with the spread of the omicron variant, which researchers and scientists believe to be more contagious than previous strains. The once-dominant delta variant also continues to spread, accounting for more than 40% of all cases nationally, according to the latest genomic sequencing data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
State health officials recorded 2,746 hospitalizations Monday and added 14,251 more cases to the tally, according to the latest figures. The test positivity rate has exceeded 26%, a number not seen since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when tests were nearly impossible to find.
The World Health Organization and others cite 5% as the threshold for when community transmission becomes widespread.
Several Maryland hospitals have activated crisis-mode standards in recent days, including Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. Hospital executives and state officials said the emergency departments have become overrun with patients experiencing COVID-19, flu and other respiratory viruses, as well as people seeking confirmatory coronavirus tests.
The debate over keeping children in school has been fraught over the past two years, with parents, labor unions, school boards and parent-teacher associations and even opposing political parties often split. But after reporting widespread evidence of learning loss and mental health damage, as well as the lowered risks that COVID-19 poses toward most children, the divides narrowed, with public health experts joining the calls for in-person learning when possible.
Federal guidance from the CDC and others urges a “layered” approach for schools teaching in-person, which includes air filtration, masking, vaccinations of students, faculty and staff members and social distancing.
Baltimore Sun reporter Christine Condon contributed to this article.