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Baltimore City and County schools deal with COVID-19 outbreaks

Posted at 5:32 PM, May 10, 2022

BALTIMORE — COVID-19 cases are increasing in our community again, but Baltimore City leaders said the numbers are still considered low.

There were outbreaks at some area schools this week.

Some students within Baltimore City Schools were pushed to virtual learning Tuesday after dozens of students and staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Baltimore City School officials said there was a grade-level outbreak impacting sixth-graders at Roland Park Elementary Middle School.

RELATED: Roland Park Elementary Middle School sixth graders to go virtual due to COVID-19 outbreak

“There’s a certain number of students in that grade who have all come down with COVID within a 14 day period, and there’s a chance that those cases are epidemiologically linked,” said Cleo Hirsch, the Executive Director of the COVID response team for Baltimore City Schools.

Hirsch said research shows the spread was likely traced back to an event that happened over the weekend.

“The students were on a field trip and so we’re quite certain that it was a result of the field trip that led to the cases spreading between students," Hirsch said. "They also had a spring festival and a community festival at the school, so the following day, it was a little bit of a perfect storm."

Hirsch said although COVID-19 numbers had slowed down, they never stopped testing and practicing their mitigation strategies within city schools.

“ We know COVID did not go away but we also know that we are prepared and we’re more prepared today than we ever have been before," Hirsch said. "We have very robust testing protocols. We’ve got the staff dedicated to this to ensure schools get the support they need, students get the testing they need."

City officials, including Dr. Letitia Dzirasa from the Baltimore City Health Department, said there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the past month.

“Over the past 28 days we’ve seen a 243 percent increase in rise of COVID cases,” Dzirasa said.

However, according to the CDC, numbers are still on the low end.

Currently, there are no enforced mandates from Baltimore City officials, but they are recommending people mask up at indoor activities and stay up to date with immunizations.

As for Baltimore City Schools leaders, they will continue testing students and staff to stay ahead of what could be another wave.

“An outbreak sounds scary but it’s just three or more cases that might be linked over the course of 14 days," Hirsch said. "So as community rates rise, we know we’re going to see classroom level outbreaks, but again, we have the tools in place to respond to those to increase testing to increase contact tracing, and to get those kids back in school as quickly and safely as possible."

In Howard County, Worthington Elementary School also saw an outbreak where just shy of 30 people tested positive for COVID-19.