A week after staff and students returned from Thanksgiving break, positive COVID-19 cases in Carroll County Public Schools grew by nearly 100.
The school system’s dashboard that updates every Wednesday reported 337 positive cases this week, including 27 staff members, compared to 239 cases the week before. It is the seventh consecutive week that positive cases have increased in the school system.
The 27 staff cases is the largest number of cases among employees this school year. Last week, only four employees tested positive. The number of students in quarantine due to being in close contact with someone who has the virus also jumped. It went from 325 last week, when students were only in school for three days, to 723 this week.
As numbers grow, the Maryland State Board of Education voted 12-1 Tuesday to change statewide masking requirements. The new regulation allows students to go without masks in public schools if community spread of COVID-19 in their county is moderate or lower or if vaccination rates are above 80% in the school or the surrounding community.
State data show that no district has 80% of its staff and students vaccinated and community spread is at “substantial” levels in all 24 of Maryland’s school districts.
Carroll County board members have called for the mask mandate to be lifted regardless of vaccine status and transmission rates. Board member Tara Battaglia said last week her issue with the mandate is more about the state overstepping on local control.
In Carroll County schools this week, Cranberry Station again has the highest number of positive cases on the elementary level at 23. The next highest is Spring Garden at 14, followed by Robert Moton, Elmer Wolfe and Taneytown at 11 each.
On the middle school level, Northwest has the most cases at 13, Shiloh has 11 and East has 10.
And for high schools, Winters Mill reported 27 cases, Manchester Valley has 18 and Francis Scott Key has 15.
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Central office also had more COVID-19 cases than usual this week as well. Most weeks, the building reports zero cases; however, this week five employees tested positive.