As COVID Cases Surge, Some School Systems Reevaluate Reopening Plans

While all Maryland public school systems began the academic year virtually, many jurisdictions hoped to transition into in-person learning, especially for certain groups of students.

Now — with COVID-19 cases surging and Maryland in the “Red Zone,” Governor Larry Hogan ordered reduced capacity for bars and restaurants statewide, issued an expanded public health advisory for out-of-state travel, and “strongly recommended” 25 people or less at in-person gatherings. Many counties have followed suit and further implemented even tighter restrictions.

There has been no additional official guidance from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) nor from Governor Hogan on the reopening of Maryland’s 24 local school systems. This leaves the decision of how to move forward in the hands of local school officials.

In August, MSDE suggested that schools limit in-person learning or close down if the statewide positivity rate eclipsed five percent and new cases exceed 15 per 100,000 residents. Hogan last week doubled down on those parameters, stating that the state’s health metrics for reopening schools have not changed.

Maryland’s COVID-19 positivity rate currently sits at 6.45% and the statewide case rate has increased to 28.2 per 100,000 residents.

Maryland reports a total of 14,853 COVID-19 cases in individuals between the ages of 10-19, with three deaths. There have been a total of 6,740 cases in children aged nine and below, according to the data.

Some local school systems are walking back previous plans to shift to in-person learning, while other school systems continuing to push forward with a hybrid learning model for certain groups of students.

See the following infographic from Maryland Matters on how Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions are currently planning to hold classes:

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Maryland Department of Health released a dashboard for COVID-19 cases in both private and public schools, which is updated weekly. While the dashboard shows the name of the school and the total cases, it lacks specific information such as the date of occurrence, the community spread for each school, and if the cases are students or staff.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.