Asymptomatic students won’t need to quarantine in the new year, as Anne Arundel schools try to keep more kids in class

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The Anne Arundel County Board of Education voted 7-1 on Wednesday evening to waive quarantine requirements for asymptomatic students who have come into contact with a COVID-19 case, a move that should reduce the number of students who are at home and away from the classroom, according to Superintendent George Arlotto.

Right now 2,438 students are in quarantine in Anne Arundel County Public Schools, missing in-person classes despite never experiencing symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19 in some cases.


High school students who are unvaccinated and come into close contact with a COVID-19 case only need to quarantine away from “high-risk” activities such as sports, per protocol, which was updated at the end of November. At the elementary and middle school level, unvaccinated students who come into contact with a case must quarantine away from school.

Schools spokesperson Bob Mosier said the protocol for high schoolers changed at the end of November, allowing more students to stay in classes, and the system planned to roll out a similar change for younger students.


That rollout won’t be necessary now. Starting in January, students who are deemed close contacts and are asymptomatic will be allowed to stay in schools at all grade levels, regardless of vaccination status and without requiring a negative test.

The number of students in quarantine right now is more than the number of students at the county’s biggest school, District 5 board member Dana Schallheim said, calling for change to reduce the figure.

“While we have a robust quarantine instruction model in place, it does not replace in-person instruction,” Schallheim said.

Since the start of December, the number of students and staff members with COVID-19 has doubled in Anne Arundel County Public Schools, an increase Arlotto said Wednesday evening that he is concerned about. At the start of the month there were 201 student cases; today there are 438 student cases. At the start of the month there were 29 staff cases; now there are 62.

Officials are not discussing shutting down athletics or other programs, Arlotto told the Board of Education, unlike in neighboring Howard County. He said the increase in cases in schools reflects an increase in the community. The state has not reported updated COVID-19 statistics in 10 days due to a cyberattack, so the change in community spread is unclear.