The Board of Education has added a discussion of new COVID-19 outbreak mitigation strategies recommended by county Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman and supported by Superintendent George Arlotto to the agenda for its May 18, 2022, meeting.
In the wake of rising case rates over the last several weeks and in an attempt to keep students and staff – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – in classrooms to lessen disrupted instruction, Dr. Kalyanaraman is recommending the following for schools that reach a positivity rate of 5 percent or higher, the threshold to declare a schoolwide outbreak:
- Students and staff at such schools 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 such schools 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.
The mitigation strategies would replace current outbreak directives from the Department of Health in which unvaccinated students and staff who are in a class or other cohort where an outbreak has been declared are sent home for five days. While there may be case-specific exceptions to the guidance, the strategies also could avoid more widespread actions such as classrooms and grade levels switching to virtual learning as the result of an outbreak.
The Board will hold its May 18 meeting at 6 p.m. in the Board Room at the Parham Building, located at 2644 Riva Road in Annapolis. It is open to the public and subject to normal space limitations in the Board Room.
A complete agenda for the meeting can be found here. More information on agenda items will be posted on the AACPS website in the Board Docs section under the Board of Education tab.
The Board will also meet in a public session at 4 p.m. for the sole purpose of voting to immediately go into closed session, during which time it will discuss confidential matters as permitted by the Maryland Open Meetings Act including, but not limited to, legal advice, personnel, and negotiations. Closed session is not open to the public.
PROCESS FOR PUBLIC COMMENT ON ADDITIONAL AGENDA ITEM
The Board will hear public comment from up to 10 people on the new agenda item at its meeting. Those wishing to sign up to testify on the new agenda item may do so through a link that available here. Testimony will only be accepted on the new agenda item. The link will be live through 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
The period to sign up to speak on other items has already closed.
To provide the most equitable and orderly opportunity for speakers with a diversity of viewpoints and varying technology access, the Board will employ a randomized, computerized lottery to select the 10 speakers for the agenda item should more than 10 people sign up to offer comment.
Speakers who secure a slot to speak will be notified by email at the email address they provide when they register. All speakers will be allotted 2 minutes and must only address the topic on which they signed up to speak.
Written comments on the agenda item can be submitted through an online form that can be found here . Written comments on this agenda item must be no more than 250 words and must be submitted by 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. Comments can also be dropped off at the Parham Building by that time.
Comments on non-agenda items are only accepted in writing.
Those who require the services of an interpreter to offer comment to the Board or who need other accessibility accommodations for Board of Education meetings should call 410-222-5311 to make those arrangements.
The general session of Wednesday’s Board meeting will be broadcast live on AACPS-TV, which can be found on Channel 96 on Comcast and Broadstripe, and Channel 36 on Verizon. High-definition broadcasts can be seen on Channel 996 on Comcast, Channel 496 on Broadstripe, and Channel 1961 on Verizon.
ADDITIONAL AGENDA ITEM
The Board has also added the ratification of a negotiated agreement with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees to its May 18, 2022, agenda.