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COVID-19 case numbers in Carroll County schools hold steady, hybrid attendance increases

The number of COVID-19 cases and people with symptoms at Carroll County Public Schools remained unchanged this week while overall in-person attendance has risen since hybrid learning resumed last month.

Cases dropped from 85 to 64 between Jan. 27 and Feb. 3. After being updated Wednesday, the school system’s data dashboard reports there are 64 cases once again with 18 staff members testing positive for the virus and 46 students. Last week,16 staffers and 48 students tested positive.

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The number of people with symptoms this week was also the same as last week. Of the 91 people who had coronavirus symptoms this week, 12 of them were school staff and 79 were students. Last week, 14 were staff and 77 were students.

Elementary schools had 25 positive cases, middle schools had 11 and high schools had 24. Carroll Springs and Central Office had four cases. The highest number of cases shown on the elementary level was three at Eldersburg, Sandymount and Westminster. Several schools showed zero cases.

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Oklahoma Road Middle School showed six cases, one more since last week. Most middle schools have zero cases.

Francis Scott Key High School has six cases after only two the week prior. Liberty High School also had two cases last week but five this week. All high schools have at least one case, except Gateway, which serves a much smaller population.

The number of students and staff with symptoms this week did not go beyond six at any individual school. There were six people with symptoms at Runnymede, which had an outbreak last month. Few were impacted. Cranberry Station, Freedom, Mechanicsville and Spring Garden each had five people with symptoms.

Oklahoma Road had the most people with symptoms among the middle schools with only four, though each middle school had at least one person with symptoms. And Manchester Valley also had four people with symptoms, which is the most out of the high schools.

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Attendance update

In-person attendance for at least one of the CCPS cohorts has increased since hybrid restarted Jan. 7.

Cindy McCabe, chief of schools, said 3,335 elementary students in cohort B attended classes in-person last week — over 300 more than the first week of January. Middle school in-person attendance went from 1,131 on Jan. 7 to 1,281 last week for cohort B, although high school attendance dropped slightly from 1,331 to 1,298.

Attendance figures for last week only included cohort B, which has in-person learning on Thursdays and Fridays, because there was no school last Monday (scheduled day off between marking periods) or Tuesday (inclement weather), when cohort A would’ve been in person.

McCabe said she’s heard more students are returning at the elementary and middle school levels due to community cases of COVID-19 decreasing.

The Carroll County Health Department reported 189 community cases last week, down some 60% from the 474 community cases reported the week of Jan. 3. The number of patients with the virus are also declining at Carroll Hospital. And although the vaccine rollout has been slow, some educators have received at least the first dose.

“I believe we will continue to see more and more in-person students this spring at the elementary and middle school levels,” McCabe said in an email.

She said she has not done any formal survey but from conversations with parents, “I can say that having high schoolers at home does not present a daycare issue for parents.”

She added high schoolers are also more independent in their learning skills, therefore, can handle virtual learning better than younger students.

Jason Anderson, chief academics, equity and accountability officer, said last week that about 45% of the student population is taking advantage of the hybrid model while the rest have chosen to remain fully virtual. Students have the option of switching from one model to the other at any point, although they are asked to give their school prior notice.

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