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Frequently Asked Questions

City Schools is sharing this helpful list of frequently asked questions about the steps and actions in place to keep students and staff healthy and safe during in-person learning.

While this information is listed in various places on this website, this FAQ compiles many of those resources in one place. We will update this information often, so check back regularly.

If you have specific questions that are not listed here that you would like to see added, please email them to

In-person learning

Why is City Schools returning to in-person learning?

Baltimore City Public Schools strongly believes the best place for a student to learn is in a classroom. As long as we can safely host students and staff with the proper health and safety measures in place, we will.

City Schools is firmly committed to in-person learning AND the health and safety of our students and staff. Our district and our community's health experts believe we can do both. 

That’s why the Baltimore City Health Department has recommended that we continue our extensive prevention and mitigation strategies – and not move to virtual learning.  

And given the fact that virtual learning failed to meet the needs of many of our students – academically, social-emotionally, and in terms of their mental health - it’s a clear choice. 

How does City Schools decide when a school should go virtual?

City Schools has no current plans to transition all schools to virtual learning.

City Schools does not solely use data benchmarks when considering whether to transition a traditional school to virtual learning temporarily. During the pandemic, we will temporarily change a school to virtual if

  1. We do not have adequate staff to operate a school safely
  2. We cannot conduct testing at a school. Charter and operator-led schools may opt to make decisions based on their criteria

Before a decision is finalized for a traditional or charter/operator school, district leaders discuss the options with the school and make the best decision for students.

How do I know if my school will be virtual temporarily?

If a school goes virtual, we will notify you via our website alerts.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, City Schools may decide to temporarily transition a school to virtual learning. Decisions are made based on having enough staff available to operate a school OR the ability to conduct COVID-19 testing. The following schools will temporarily transition to virtual learning on the date listed. This list is continually updated as circumstances dictate, so check back often.

Are masks required, and what type?

At the start of the 2021-22 school year, City Schools provided high-quality masks to staff and students that comply with health guidelines (2 layers of tightly-woven fabric).

We have provided KN95 for certain job categories like Health and Safety Coordinators and will have a certain number of KN95 masks for other staff who want them.

In addition, City Schools continues to ensure disposable surgical masks are on-site and available at our schools for students or staff who forget their masks.

Students and staff may double-mask.

Health and Safety Protocols

(Full information may be found at

Does City Schools have health and safety procedures?

Yes. Since summer 2020, City Schools has maintained and regularly updated its Health and Safety Standard Operating Procedures. These are the rules we use to keep students and staff safe, including cleaning, testing, social distancing, and more. The SOP is updated monthly.

What are the main procedures?
  • Ventilation: higher efficiency mechanical filters and HEPA air purifiers will continue to be used to help mitigate infectious aerosol transmission. 
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette: Routines and education to support handwashing and respiratory etiquette will continue to be implemented. 
  • Symptom monitoring: everyone entering a City Schools building will be reminded to monitor their symptoms and to not enter if they are experiencing symptoms 
  • Quarantining and isolation: individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 will continue to be isolated and their non-vaccinated close contacts will continue to be quarantined
  • Cleaning and disinfecting: cleaning and disinfecting procedures using products designed to combat COVID-19 will continue to be used daily. Cleaning and disinfecting will be done by each building’s team instead of a centrally deployed team.
Do staff members have to be tested and vaccinated?

Employees are required to be vaccinated unless they apply for and receive a religious or medical exemption from the district. If they do not fulfill the requirement, the employee will be subject to progressive disciplinary measures.

Employees that receive an exemption must be tested weekly by City Schools or share results of a third-party test.

School employees are required to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing through City Schools or a third party. For January 2022, this requirement applies to all vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. 

District office staff may be tested at North Avenue on the first floor, but it is not required.

Are students required to be tested or vaccinated?

Student participation in COVID-19 testing is required except in limited circumstances, listed in the Parent/Guardian Consent Form and COVID-19 Awareness Agreement (English | Spanish). Students may test using the City Schools weekly program or seek third-party testing weekly and provide the results to City Schools.

City Schools will attempt to remind and engage families that do not complete and submit the consent form.

City Schools students are not required to be vaccinated, but it is highly encouraged.

How does weekly testing at schools occur?

Learn more about our COVID-19 testing and screen program here. But in summary:

High school students and staff receive individual PCR tests weekly.

Elementary/middle students participate in pooled testing.


What happens if a E/MS student or school staff member tests positive?

Elementary/middle school students and staff members in a positive pool test will receive rapid tests the following day. The procedure is as follows:

  • All students and staff in a positive pool will return to school the business day after the results.
  • Rapid tests will be administered to those students and staff.
  • Individuals who test negative will stay in school.
  • Even if vaccinated, individuals who test positive will leave school and begin the 5-day quarantine period. Positive individuals may return to school after the 5-day quarantine period.
  • Unvaccinated household contacts of those who test positive must quarantine. 

Test to Stay will start in high schools at a later date. 

How do quarantines take place, and for how long?

City Schools will reduce its required quarantine period to 5 days for students and staff members for the following groups:

  • After January 18, anyone who has COVID must quarantine for 5 days
    • No symptoms - Day 1 of the quarantine is the day AFTER you test positive
    • Symptoms - Day 1 of the quarantine is the day AFTER your symptoms start
    • You must be fever-free for 24 hours with a reduction in symptoms to return after 5 days


  • After January 18, anyone who is an unvaccinated close contact to someone with COVID-19 must quarantine for 5 days unless they are participating in the Test to Stay protocols (see below)
    • Day 1 of the quarantine is the day AFTER exposure
How many E/MS students are in a testing pool?

City Schools is reducing the size of its testing pools to only five individuals (when possible). This important change will allow us to better know which students need to quarantine, which will mean fewer missed classroom days for students. Smaller pools will also help laboratories in producing results more quickly.

If I test positive for COVID-19, when do I have to test again?

One - If you test positive for COVID-19, you don't have to test for the next 90 days.

Do student-athletes have to test weekly?

Generally, student participation in COVID-19 testing is required except in limited circumstances. However, students in athletics are required to be vaccinated and do not have to test. Students in athletics are only required to receive a COVID-19 test weekly if they have received an exemption due to medical or religious reasons. 

What does my student need to participate in the screenings or tests?

Families must agree to support our rules in writing and to agree to the COVID screenings. Please download, complete, and return this form to your school (English or Spanish). If a family does not agree, the student may not be able to fully participate in school activities. For details on how to opt-out of the City Schools testing program, please reach out to your student’s principal. However, if they do so, they must conduct their own third-party testing in line with the schedule required by their school. 

City Schools will attempt to remind and engage families that do not complete and submit the consent form.

Will I be notified if someone at my school or office has COVID-19?

Yes. City Schools will notify you in short order once a confirmed COVID-19 case is identified at your location, or if you are a close contact. This notification will come via letter from the school.

How can I find out how many COVID-19 cases have occurred at my school or in City Schools?

City Schools maintains a data dashboard that tracks the results of schools and the district. View it here or at Note, the dashboard is updated at least once daily, so check regularly for updates.

What is a good place to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

City Schools has partnered with the Baltimore City Health Department to provide vaccination clinics at schools. A schedule is available here. Please check regularly as new dates and locations are added to the schedule frequently.


If a student has to stay home, what strategies are in place to support remote learning?

Schools will support learning for students who need to quarantine. This support will include a combination of offline learning assignments, asynchronous learning assignments, and synchronous learning. Families will work directly with their schools to understand how and when the continuity of learning will occur for their child(ren) during quarantine. Students will be equipped with technology to access their online learning.

Can my student attend school virtually?

For nearly all students, the answer is no. We are limiting access to virtual instruction because many students incurred significant learning loss while participating remotely last year. In addition, students also suffered emotional distress and feelings of isolation. Our young people must return to the classroom, where they can be with their peers and benefit from personal instruction by teachers who care about them. 

I heard about a Virtual Learning Program. What is it and how may I participate?

City Schools' Virtual Learning Programs are not accepting new students currently. The application and the appeal periods for this school year are closed. Students in the Virtual Learning Program were selected based on past academic performance and attendance in that setting - the program is not for every student. Any student not selected for the Virtual Learning Program must attend school in-person except in certain circumstances.  

City Schools believes the best place for students to learn is an in-person classroom, as long as the proper health and safety protocols are in place. The Virtual Learning Program is not an option for families that do not want their students to attend school in person. To learn more about our health and safety protocols for in-person learning, review our procedures here.

My student has a serious health concern, or I do not feel comfortable with them attending school in-person. What can I do?

Most students are required to attend school in-person. City Schools has proven procedures that keep students and staff safe – see above. However, there is a limited, secondary pathway for eligible parents:

  • Home and Hospital designation - If you feel that your student has a medical condition that prevents them from attending school safely, you may apply to the Home and Hospital program for in-home personal instruction. Please note: there are specific medical criteria for participation, and a doctor’s authorization is required. You should also know that this program is not virtual; in-person instruction takes place in your home. If you have questions about Home and Hospital, please contact Dr. Louise Fink at or Janet Lippman at You may also call the Home and Hospital office at 410-396-0775. 
How do I get a laptop for my student?

Please get in touch with your school and a computer will be provided. You may also contact our tech help desk at 443-984-2001, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Currently, schools have the discretion to determine how students transport the computers daily. Some principals have already indicated that they plan to have students leave their laptops at school rather than transport them back and forth. But again, there is no district-level decision here yet.

If parents were not given grades from last year, who should they contact?

If parents did not receive grades from last year, they should contact the school to receive a copy of the students’ report card.

What should parents do if they feel their school does not have enough PPE or supplies?

The parent should coordinate with the principal. If not, contact our Ombudsman.I will note that City Schools has been very proactive in stockpiling and providing PPE and supplies to our schools during the pandemic. 

School Operations

To share your concerns about schools, email

How will you clean rooms and buildings during the pandemic?

CDC cleaning and disinfecting guidelines will be followed. Frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, phones, light switches, faucets, toilets, urinals, fixtures, dispensers, handrails, cafeteria and restroom walls, and other surfaces and objects that students and staff frequently touch will be cleaned, and disinfected daily, at least twice a day.


How will lunch be handled?

Meals will be served by the cafeteria. The distance between students will be maximized to the extent possible while accommodating all students. Air scrubbers have been installed in cafeterias to provide air filtration. For additional information about mealtime protocols, please speak with your child’s school.

How will students be transported safely?

Students will continue to be transported via yellow buses, cabs and MTA. Yellow buses and taxis are disinfected at the end of the day. Frequently touched services are cleaned between each school drop-off. Social distancing will be used whenever possible on yellow buses, based on space limitations. Taxi: a maximum of two students may ride. Students from different households may share a ride. MTA: riders are to spread out on the vehicle when possible. Standing on buses is NOT permitted.

Do schools have proper air filtering?

HEPA Air purifier filters flagged before the 2021 winter break were replaced by technicians.Technicians and custodians reviewed purifiers in schools to ensure all filters were changed as needed.

In some instances, the devices were inadvertently not reset. A reminder has been issued to maintenance staff.

Reminder: we have installed MERV-13 filters in our buildings and ensure change out is happening every 3 months

Learn more about air quality on our ”In-Person Air Quality” webpage