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COVID dashboard and the return of school-based testing announced

This week, Baltimore City Public Schools re-launched the COVID dashboard for the 2021-2022 school year. The dashboard shows daily updates of any COVID cases among students, staff, and others within schools. You may view the dashboard by visiting baltimorecityschools.org/safety-procedures, where you can also read about the many health and safety protocols in place in City Schools.  

Identifying and isolating individuals who test positive for COVID and then confirming and quarantining unvaccinated close contacts is a critically important part of the district’s strategy to maintain health and safety of students and staff members. 

The dashboard provides district-wide and school-specific information for our students, staff, and the public. While the dashboard provides a public view across all our schools, please know that your school will notify you directly of confirmed COVID cases.  

SCHOOL-BASED COVID TESTING 

City Schools will also resume school-based, asymptomatic testing for staff and students during the week of September 13. This information is important to families and schools because it helps us identify COVID cases that otherwise may be unknown. With weekly test results, we can take the necessary steps to isolate individuals who test positive, quarantine unvaccinated close contacts, and conduct follow-up testing. This strategy proved invaluable in the spring, helping us keep our students and staff safe. 

As testing gets underway, we expect to see a rise in the number of confirmed COVID cases and here is why: 

  • Individuals who have not yet begun to have symptoms or who would have remained asymptomatic (no symptoms) may be identified. In both cases, identifying them via asymptomatic testing reduces the risk of transmission to other individuals in the school. 
  • The early rounds of testing may identify students as COVID positive who had COVID up to 12 weeks before the test.  Those individuals may have been asymptomatic and never knew they had COVID. This phenomenon should go away after the first couple of rounds of testing once everyone has been in attendance to be tested during their school’s weekly testing. 

This expected increase in the number of COVID cases during the first rounds of testing is not a cause for concern but an indication that our asymptomatic testing program is doing exactly what it is designed to do - identify individuals with COVID early to reduce the risk to other staff or students in the school. 

While we lead the charge to keep students and staff safe, students and families are a critical partner in this fight. Here’s how you can help. 

  • Complete the COVID-19 testing consent form and returning it to the school ASAP. The form is on the Back-to-School webpage and the COVID-19 testing webpage
  • If you have a child aged 12-17, get them vaccinated as soon as possible, as City Schools recommends. Text your zip code to 438829 for a list of free COVID-19 vaccination clinics in your area. Free transportation and childcare are provided at some sites. After vaccination, parents should immediately submit the COVID-19 vaccination card to your child's school in-person or electronically for record keeping. Vaccinated students will be able to enjoy unique benefits during in-person learning this school year. 

This and our comprehensive health and safety strategy that includes social distancing, masking, health screening, hand washing, contact tracing for staff and students will help us minimize the risks that COVID presents for us all. Many families have not had the opportunity to have their children tested since the spring or not at all. Knowing your child’s status provides a sense of comfort and helps keep the entire school community safe.