Mayor, City of Baltimore
Chair, Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners
Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises
Chief Executive Officer
January 13, 2022
Announcements and Press Releases
Five-day quarantine periods, immediate rapid testing
Baltimore City Public Schools continues to update its health and safety effort as students and staff return to in-person learning this winter. Visit our website homepage weekly to get the latest insight for students and families on this critical work; staff will receive updates via the Inside Scoop weekly newsletter or supplementary email.
The Baltimore City Health Department has recommended that City Schools continue with its ongoing health and safety steps listed below. City Schools leaders meet weekly with the Health Department to ensure our response is aligned with the community-wide effort.
On Tuesday, January 18, Baltimore City Public Schools will begin implementing three key changes in its health and safety rules.
Quick Health and Safety Update
These changes align with recent guidance for K-12 schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Maryland Department of Health. City Schools has also reviewed these changes with the Baltimore City Health Department.
Five-day quarantine periods
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
Next-day rapid testing for positive pools (Test to Stay)
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.
Smaller groups for pool testing at elementary/middle schools
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.
Two reminders (updated 1/14/22)
One - If you test positive for COVID-19, you don't have to test for the next 90 days.
Two - All students are required to participate in weekly testing at their schools. Individuals must participate in the City Schools testing program or get tested by a third party and provide the result. The Parent/Guardian Consent Form and COVID-19 Awareness Agreement are required (English | Spanish). City Schools will attempt to remind and engage families that do not complete and submit the consent form. Failure to weekly test may result in schools placing limits on student participation in extracurriculars and other school activities to mitigate health and safety risks.
All school staff must participate in weekly school testing through January, even if they are vaccinated.
January 11, 2022Testing rules, COVID-19 dashboard, and virtual learning programs
Testing rules students in athletics
Generally, student participation in COVID-19 testing is required except in limited circumstances (See the January 6 update for details). 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.
Reminder about the COVID-19 dashboard
The COVID-19 tracking dashboard only reflects positive COVID-19 cases that occurred while schools were in session. The results from testing during the week of January 3, 2022, will NOT be added to the dashboard as those cases occurred when schools were closed. We will begin updating the dashboard this week. The increase in cases is slowing our contact tracing work, as we confirm cases related to schools before posting them. We will update the dashboard cases as quickly as possible, but there will not be real-time updates.
The Virtual Learning Programs are not accepting new students
City Schools' Virtual Learning Programs are not accepting new students currently. The application and the appeal periods for this school year closed this fall. 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, visit https://www.baltimorecityschools.org/safety-procedures
June 10, 2022Student testing required, computers, how decisions are made
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.
REMINDER: Students are required to be tested
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.
How we make the decisions to go temporarily 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, or 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.
My student or staff member was in a positive pool during the week of Jan. 3. Will they retest?
Anyone in a positive pool the week of Jan. 3 will immediately enter quarantine. They may opt to be PCR retested at the school or return after their quarantine period ends on Jan. 18.
Please note: there may be delays in offering PCR tests due to the high demand during this time.
My school is temporarily virtual and I need a computer. What should I do?
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.
January 6, 2022Consent form, masks, HSC job openings
- Regular weekly testing will resume for all students and school staff on January 6. Learn more about our COVID-19 testing program at baltimorecityschools.org/covid-screens
- Given the current surge, we encourage all students to participate in our COVID-19 testing program, even if they are vaccinated. You must opt-in - All students must submit a signed consent form. Download the FILLABLE document in English or Spanish, or pick up a copy from your school. Complete the sections that require personal information and save the document to your computer. The form must be signed and submitted to the student's school by Thursday, January 6. If you are not able to print the form, please contact your school and ask how you can email it to them.
- The Parent and Community Advisory Board (PCAB) will host a special meeting on Thursday, January 13 on Facebook. City Schools will present updates on rapid testing, quarantines for students, and more. Log in and learn how we are keeping students and staff members safe.
- WHEN: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 13
- WHERE: PCAB on Facebook - facebook.com/bcpspcab
- If City Schools temporarily closes a school or transitions to virtual learning for any reason, including COVID-19 or staffing challenges, we will always post the information as an alert on our website homepage.
- Masks are required in all City Schools buildings. Based on our ongoing conversations with health experts, the best mask is a mask that fits well, is comfortable, and that people will wear consistently. 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 with adjustable straps to ensure a snug fit). 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.
- City Schools has openings for Health and Safety Coordinators, positions that support our testing efforts at schools. More information on these vacancies are available at https://www.baltimorecityschools.org/jobs.
ONGOING PREVENTION STEPS
City Schools is taking the following steps to keep students and staff safe:
- Requiring masks or face coverings in all buildings
- Weekly proactive screening and testing of students and school staff (see below)
- Daily, on-site access to testing for individuals that have symptoms
- Upgraded air filters or air purification devices in all buildings
- Daily cleaning procedures using chemicals that sanitize against COVID-19
- Staff members are required to be vaccinated unless they receive an approved exemption
- Coordinating weekly with the Health Department on strategy and advice
- Two days of testing for school staff and high school students upon their return from Winter Break