ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Anne Arundel County Public Schools sent out the following reminders to families and employees as classes are set to resume after winter break.
“Dear Anne Arundel County Public Schools Families and Employees:
As we conclude the Christmas/Winter break and get set to resume classes at all of our schools tomorrow, we ask that you keep the following things in mind:
WEATHER: We are keeping an eye on the storm system moving toward our area. We are having appropriate conversations related to the weather and will make any announcements regarding schedule adjustments as soon as it is prudent.
RESUMPTION OF CLASSES: Following the guidance of our county Department of Health, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Maryland State Department of Education, there is no change to our opening plans for in-person instruction tomorrow (barring any weather complications). As a reminder, the Maryland State Board of Education and State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury have been clear that the priority for local school systems continue to be in-person instruction for students. That has been – and remains – our focus as well.
MASKS: In accordance with Maryland State Department of Education regulations, anyone inside a school facility must be masked except for under certain legally approved circumstances. Families should ensure students have masks when they leave home for school in the morning and that they wear them on school buses and in all buildings. Schools have access to masks to provide in the event a student forgets their mask, but the responsibility to provide masks for students remains that of the student’s family.
CHROMEBOOKS AND OTHER DEVICES: As a reminder, all students and staff should have brought home their Chromebooks or other portable devices and should be sure to charge them this evening.
CONTACT TRACING, ISOLATION/QUARANTINE CHANGES: AACPS is no longer quarantining students who were close contacts of a COVID-positive person and who are asymptomatic. Additionally, and with the Department of Health’s concurrence, AACPS is no longer conducting contact tracing in schools or school-sponsored activities (including athletics). However, agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH) and School-Aged Child Care will continue their practice of quarantine (as an example, unvaccinated household contacts). AACPS will honor those quarantines, and an individual placed in quarantine by an outside agency may not attend school or school-sponsored activities for the duration of the quarantine.
The CDC has also altered its isolation and quarantine guidelines. The new isolation period (for those who are COVID-positive) and quarantine period (for those placed in QT by another agency, such as the DOH) for adults and students are both 5 days. In almost all cases, the isolation period for a COVID-positive person begins the day after the onset of symptoms (if symptomatic) or the day after the date of a positive test (if asymptomatic).
The new guidelines allow for a person to end quarantine after five days as long as their symptoms have resolved or “are resolving.” The latter is a CDC phrase that includes “without fever for 24 hours.” There is no test-out of the isolation or quarantine period and those returning from isolation or quarantine must mask in all public settings (including athletics) for an additional five days.
Students and employees for whom Day 5 of quarantine occurs on or before January 2, 2022, can return to school or work on January 3, 2022, provided they meet the other specified criteria.
SYMPTOMATIC STUDENTS AND EMPLOYEES: Anyone who is not feeling well should remain home from school or work. Students and employees should be symptom-free for 24 hours before returning to school or work. Those with COVID-19 symptoms must also have a negative test or an alternate medical diagnosis before returning. Testing for those who become symptomatic in school is available through school health rooms.
NOTIFICATIONS TO FAMILIES: Schools will send communications to families when a confirmed positive case has occurred in their student’s grade. These communications are not an indication that a student is a close contact (AACPS is not conducting contact tracing) or that a student has been exposed to the COVID-positive case. Rather, they are intended as an awareness piece for families so they can more closely monitor symptoms of their student, test if necessary, and make other appropriate decisions.
VACCINATION-OR-TEST PROGRAM: The vaccination-or-test program for employees and student-athletes will resume this week. AACPS continues to encourage vaccinations for students and employees. Vaccinations and booster shots are readily available at commercial and DOH facilities. Information on vaccination and booster clinics can be found at www.aacounty.org/covidvax
MITIGATION STRATEGIES: As recommended by health agencies, AACPS continues to employ distancing when possible, appropriate cleaning protocols, assigned seating in the cafeteria, limited movement around buildings, limited visitors to buildings, changing of HVAC filters and increased air flow in buildings. Students and employees are also encouraged to wash their hands frequently and use their own water bottles.