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Baltimore County school officials to release draft plan for bringing K-2 students back to classrooms

Baltimore County school leaders are expected to release a tentative plan for returning students in kindergarten through second grade to school buildings by Nov. 30, while COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the region.

County school board members asked staff last month to publicly release the draft plan by Tuesday’s board meeting in hopes of providing families with a window into their school reopening strategy. Board members have cautioned that the plan should be considered flexible and subject to change.

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Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are beginning to climb above the Maryland Board of Education’s threshold for determining that schools are safe to reopen.

Maryland State Department of Education officials recommend limiting or ceasing in-person programs in schools if the COVID-19 testing positivity rate is greater than 5% and the new case rate is greater than 15 per 100,000.

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Monday, Baltimore County reached a 5.51% positivity rate and an average of 21.29 cases per 100,000. It’s unclear how the figures will impact the plan.

Administrators are continuing to monitor the data and collaborate with Baltimore County’s Health Department, said school system spokesman Charles Herndon in an email.

“The report [Tuesday], which will be reflective of the rising numbers we’re seeing with COVID, will give us some more detail,” Herndon said. “But like everyone else, we have to respect what the data are telling us, and what they are telling us is not good.”

A few days after the board requested the reopening plan for kindergarten through second grade students, administrators scrapped another plan to send some students and staff back to four schools for children with disabilities, citing concerns with the region’s rates of COVID-19.

And other school systems including Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County have started altering plans to resume in-person instruction and fall athletics.

Baltimore County School Board meets Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

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