Many school districts in Maryland have scaled back plans to return to in-person learning amid a statewide spike in Covid-19 cases and moves by Gov Larry Hogan to reduce gatherings in businesses and step up infection-control enforcement across the state.
“The easiest prospect for reopening schools is to get the case numbers down from where they are now,” The Baltimore Sun quoted Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, as saying.
Baltimore City Public Schools, for example, had made plans to open 44 schools for in-person learning next week, but has since revisited that decision and reduced the number of schools that will reopen to under 30.
New daily cases range from 12.7 per 100,000 people in Carroll County to 26.4 per 100,000 in the Baltimore City, where the rate has more than tripled in three weeks. Most schools across the nation consider a rate of 10 to 15 new cases per 100,000 people to be the threshold for keeping students at home for remote learning.
Howard County Public Schools decided to require a positivity rate below 5 percent and a rolling seven-day average for the new case rate under 10 per 100,000 people for two weeks straight before schools can return to in-person instruction.
The Baltimore County School Board originally planned to return its youngest students to in-person learning by the end of this month. The board, however, directed staff this evening to craft a detailed plan for hybrid education during the spring semester, which would represent all but an abandonment of the original plan.