Baltimore City school system extends winter break by two days to test all school staff for COVID-19

The Baltimore City school system is extending its winter break by two days to test all school staff for COVID-19 before classes resume for students Jan 5.

The school system notified employees and families of the decision Thursday, with students expected to make up the two missed learning days in June. All school staff must report for testing Jan. 3-4. Students will be required to participate in regular or pool testing once classes resume, or receive weekly testing by a third party.


The announcement comes as Maryland on Thursday reported another 24-hour record of coronavirus cases. The state has recorded more than 17,000 cases over the past three days, levels not previously seen.

The union representing Baltimore City teachers had called this week on school system leaders to offer asynchronous learning — meaning students complete work on their own time — Jan. 3-4 while opening school buildings for technology distribution and for administering or distributing COVID-19 tests to students and families.


The union also sought to have every student and staff member tested for the virus upon a return to in-person instruction and to have all air filters and ventilation systems checked and changed or upgraded.

The call for closure came even as the Maryland State Department of Education announced Monday that state education leaders would support a local school system’s transition to online learning only “under the most exigent of circumstances.”

In the announcement posted to the school system website, system leaders outlined details of the testing plan.

High school staff will be tested Jan. 3, with results expected by Jan. 4. High school leaders will communicate with students and families about the availability of testing at each school before classes resume. Regular testing will also resume Jan. 5 when students return to school.

Elementary and middle schools will rely on rapid testing for staff Jan. 4, with results expected within 15 minutes. The school system also pledged to test as many students as possible Jan. 5-6.

City school leaders also hope to coordinate with the Baltimore City Health Department and other community partners to offer COVID-19 booster shot clinics.