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Anne Arundel, Carroll and Harford students went back to school this week. Here’s a look at COVID cases in those districts.

Anne Arundel, Carroll and Harford County officials closely monitored the number of positive COVID-19 cases appearing in schools this week as they welcomed students back to in-person classes.

Students across the three school systems returned to buildings Sept. 8 following Labor Day and the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana. Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County students were among the first in the region to return to schools last week.

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All six school systems have opened at full capacity with the encouragement of state leaders and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even as some teachers and parents have fretted over the virus’ potential to spread in schools.

Although the public school systems followed similar schedules, the prevalence of COVID-19 cases across the districts can be difficult to compare because of variations in population density, enrollment and class sizes. Differences in how school districts test for COVID and apply federal health and safety guidelines can also affect the number of students and staff required to stay home or quarantine.

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In Carroll County, 119 students were asked to quarantine this week, according to school spokeswoman Carey Gaddis. And 13 staff members tested positive for COVID-19, according to a school system dashboard with a Sept. 8 timestamp. Enrollment figures for the current school year are not yet available, but Carroll County counted more than 24,000 students at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

Carroll County is the only district in the Baltimore region to begin the school year without a mask mandate. Community and school board members have been embroiled in a bitter debate over the use of face masks in schools during the lead up to the fall semester. Carroll’s school board members opted to keep masking optional despite the advice of local health officials.

A Maryland General Assembly committee will vote Tuesday whether to approve a Maryland State Board of Education’s decision to mandate masking in schools.

In Harford County, system officials counted 34 positive COVID-19 cases in schools on Wednesday and Thursday, according to spokeswoman Jillian Lader. Harford schools enrolled about 37,000 students during the 2020-21 school year.

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Anne Arundel County schools’ COVID-19 case dashboard will be updated every Wednesday beginning next week. A spokesman for the school system did not respond to requests for comment. The system oversees the education of about 83,000 public school students.

Last week, Baltimore City school system as of Thursday had performed contact tracing for 26 students and 12 employees with confirmed cases of COVID-19. There were about 77,856 students enrolled in the system during the 2020-21 academic year.

Baltimore County school system reported 173 cases of COVID-19 in schools during the first week of school, according to a school system dashboard where some recent case counts were recorded for the week of Aug. 27 through Sept. 3. The state’s third largest school system served about 111,000 students last year.

And Howard County schools, which served more than 57,000 students in the 2020-21 school year, performed contact tracing for about 75 students and 6 employees during the first week of school.

Baltimore Sun reporter Christine Condon contributed to this article.

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