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'This is not a mandate': AACPS asking schools to mask up should outbreak occur

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Posted at 5:14 PM, May 18, 2022

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. — With COVID-19 cases in Anne Arundel County tripling over the past month, masking in county schools once again made it onto the agenda at Wednesday’s night’s Board of Education meeting.

"When a school gets to a 5% positivity rate we are going to ask students and staff to mask for a period of time," said AACPS spokesperson Bob Mosier.

AACPS said the goal is to keep both vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff safe in classrooms.

"The recommendation from the Department of Health is that when schools hit that threshold of 5% of positivity that we will ask students and staff to mask for a period of 10 days and we will provide them with COVID test to take at home," Mosier added.

The recommendations were outlined by AACPS superintendent George Alotto during Wednesday BOE meeting.

The positivity rate in Anne Arundel County is nearly double the state average.

It’s about 13 percent, the highest it has been since late January.

Parents had mixed reviews on the COVID-19 outbreak mitigation strategy.

"I think they need to stop all of it," said parent Kim Pratta. "If people want to do that then that’s absolutely they’re right. Nobody’s stopping them from doing it but for us, we realize that our children are the least amount at risk here and all of this is just a charade to make adults feel better."

Anne Arundel Schools talks about masks

"The plan that has been proposed with temporary masking and testing for schools that are experiencing outbreaks is a fair and reasonable route," said parent Sarah Zhak. "If the goal is to keep students in in person learning for their mental health and other reasons that people have mentioned, these are relatively simple measures we can take to keep them in person."

Anne Arundel Co. Board of Education has masks on agenda

Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman suggested implementing these measures for AACPS.

The measures include:

  • Students and staff at at schools experiencing an outbreak will be asked to wear masks in indoor school settings for 10 calendar days, with Day 1 being the day after the 5 percent mark is reached. Exceptions to masking will be made for meals, physical education and dance classes, and outdoor activities such as athletics. Exceptions also will be made for students and staff who have a documented inability, such as an Individualized Education Plan, to mask.
  • Students and staff at schools experiencing an outbreak will be given two COVID-19 at-home tests provided through the Department of Health and asked to test on Day 1 and Day 3, with Day 1 being the day after the 5 percent mark is reached. Those who test positive or who are otherwise symptomatic must remain home from school or work.

Students only have 25 days remaining in the school year.