Mayor, City of Baltimore
Chair, Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners
Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises
Chief Executive Officer
February 23, 2021
Press Releases and Announcements
City Schools adds weekly, no-symptom COVID-19 screenings for in-person learning programs
City Schools is expanding our in-person learning options beginning Monday, March 1. We are excited to announce that our COVID-19 testing options are also expanding for students and staff participating in optional in-person learning opportunities. The two new screenings will identify COVID-19 cases for individuals who may not initially exhibit symptoms.
The screenings are designed to provide an early detection system and are part of a comprehensive health and safety strategy offered by City Schools. These new tools further strengthen current efforts such as social distancing, use of face masks, health screenings, desk shields, handwashing, and symptomatic testing.
We will launch a webpage focused on City Schools testing plan with more information within a week. Some basic initial details are included below.
City Schools will provide the following no-symptom screenings weekly:
- Pooled screenings for elementary grades - Students in elementary grades will participate in pooled, or group, screenings. Groups of students and staff in classroom pods will use short cotton swabs to self-administer the collection of their own samples for review by medical professionals. The test is gentle, unlike the deep penetration COVID-19 tests. The swab test only requires a few swabs around the inside edge of the nose and can be self-administered by students as young as kindergarten. Once collected, these samples will be combined in a single test tube, or pool, that will be tested to determine whether anyone in the pool has COVID. Results are available in 24 hours or less. To see how the test is administered, check out the video below featuring City Schools teachers and students.
- Individual saliva screenings at high schools – High school students and staff will be individually tested each week through a self-administered saliva-based test offered by Shield T3. Test tubes are then sent to a mobile lab. The test takes minutes to administer and provides results within eight hours of delivery to the mobile lab located in Washington, D.C.. Parents, staff, and students may download an app that will give them their child’s COVID-19 test results each week.
Both pooled screenings and saliva screenings are offered on-site to City Schools students and staff at no charge.
Families opting to participate in in-person learning must complete a consent agreement that lays out the components of in-person learning that are in place to ensure the health and safety of all staff and students. Those components include:
- Wearing a mask,
- Social distancing,
- Participating in the daily health screening,
- Keeping your child home when they’re sick,
- Letting your school know if your child has been exposed to COVID-19, and
- Participating in City Schools testing program.
The addition of no-symptom, or asymptomatic, screenings are part of a comprehensive health and safety strategy offered by City Schools. In recent months, City Schools has also purchased at least 8,600 air purifiers and upgraded air filters to support improved air purification and filtering. The district has also supported a large-scale vaccination effort for staff. Additional core health and safety strategies include grouping students into classroom pods to avoid the spread of germs and contact tracing in partnership with the Baltimore City Health Department.