Baltimore County school leaders are pledging to keep classes in-person five days a week, but asked staff and students to bring devices and chargers home for the winter break in case the system is directed to close by local or state government.
Superintendent Darryl Williams acknowledged the “sharp increase” in positive COVID-19 cases around the region as deeply concerning, in a message delivered to families Monday morning.
“This is a rapidly changing situation and we need your continued support and partnership,” he said.
The health and safety of the school system community is a “top priority,” Williams said, adding that many students’ academic and social-emotional needs are best met when classes are held are in person.
Still, the school system cannot ignore the rising number of cases in schools in recent weeks, he said. The announcement outlines several new mitigation tactics aimed at curbing the rise in COVID-19 cases in schools around the region.
Among the new mitigation efforts, Baltimore County schools will suspend non-athletic extracurricular activities beginning Wednesday through Jan. 7, including clubs, programs, and in-person tutoring. Schools are encouraged to transition to online meetings, if possible. Community use of school buildings, including daycare programs, can continue as scheduled, the announcement states.
Additionally, all athletic games scheduled during the winter break between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 are canceled. Practices may continue as scheduled because student athletes are already required to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing as a condition for participation. Optional masked practices are also allowed.
In the event that Baltimore County Department of Health identifies an outbreak in a specific school, administrators will work with health officials to determine next steps. School leaders have been holding weekly meetings with health experts from the Baltimore County Department of Health, Johns Hopkins University, and University of Maryland to evaluate COVID-19 metrics and review health and safety strategies.
School leaders plan to update families on the efforts to monitor cases in schools on Dec. 30, the announcement states.