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Baltimore City schools report 13 positive COVID-19 results from group testing

Baltimore City public schools discovered more than a dozen positive COVID-19 tests last week as part of the district’s routine coronavirus testing and tracking program.

The district found 13 positive pooled test results out of 253 total pods tested, said district spokeswoman Gwendolyn Chambers. All of the people who were in the pods with shared positive results have been sent home and are being tested individually.

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Pooled tests are tests where students and staff who are together in a classroom each test themselves by swabbing the inside of their noses and then putting the swab together in a container. Chambers said the district tested a total of 3,290 people.

The 13 positive results suggests that there is likely at least one case of COVID-19 within each of those classrooms.

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The $14 million program conducts tests of staff and students to ensure cases of the virus are discovered before they spread.

“Our robust asymptomatic testing program helps keep everyone safe by testing regularly, identifying early individuals who have COVID and quarantining them and allowing time for individual testing so they don’t spread it to other individuals,” Chambers said.

The 10 schools where staff or students tested positive are: Arlington, Lakeland, Moravia Park, Harford Heights and Curtis Bay elementaries; and Cross Country, Glenmount, Dr. Nathan A. Pitts-Ashburton, Violetville and Francis Scott Key elementary/middle schools.

Maryland requires districts to report cases of spread found inside schools, but does not require a report of every COVID-19 case. The state’s school-by-school data is updated Wednesdays.

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City schools opened all its elementary schools for grades kindergarten through second grade two weeks ago. Grades three through five and ninth graders began Monday.

The Baltimore Teachers Union has objected to the district’s decision to reopen until teachers can get fully vaccinated and the district implements a safety plan, including improved ventilation. A union leader said the testing results justified concerns.

“That data alarms many members, especially those who are mandated back into buildings before completing their vaccine dose/s and waiting period since six additional grades are now slated to return on top of the current load,” said Corey Gaber with the BTU. Teachers are grateful for the testing, however, he said.

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