The Baltimore City school system plans to discontinue its regular COVID-19 screenings and move away from notifying families of individual cases starting in January as students and staff return from winter break.
System leaders say changes to the COVID prevention plan will take effect Jan. 3 to better align the school system with guidance from health experts and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes ending the practice of notifying families about individual cases, which will still appear on the district’s online COVID dashboard. Schools will notify an impacted classroom or school of an outbreak only as defined by Maryland health authorities, which consists of three or more cases that are linked, the announcement states.
Other precautionary measures such as the mandatory five-day isolation period for positive cases will remain in place. Masking will remain optional, with the exception of those who are known close contacts for 10 days after exposure, those recovering from COVID for 10 days from the start of isolation, or those who develop COVID-like symptoms while at school.
Before the announcement Friday, the city school system, which serves about 78,000 students, remained the only jurisdiction in the region still conducting regular in-school COVID screenings. This fall, Baltimore school officials rolled back the screenings from weekly to every other week as pandemic relief funds ran out.
In the meantime, city schools will continue distributing free COVID tests to students and staff during the Thanksgiving and winter break periods. All are encouraged to test before returning to schools.