BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Federal guidance released Friday afternoon by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lays out a blueprint on getting kids back in the classroom.

The guidance is not a green light to open all schools, but rather sets community transmission benchmarks to assist school leaders in decision-making. It also provides a series of mitigation steps, recommending universal masking and every effort to socially distance.

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“It’s an important signal that we are trying from the federal level to help to rebuild that trust,” Dr. Annette Anderson of the Johns Hopkins School of Education said. “Districts have pieced together a case-by-case response to the pandemic and now we’re seeing there’s going to be more support from the federal level.”


The CDC’s color-coded system gives guidance to school leaders based on community transmission rates in local communities. “Blue” and “Yellow” zones indicated community transmission is low or moderate, clearing the way for in-person instruction.

Using Friday’s case rates from the Maryland Department of Health, all Maryland counties are in the “Yellow” zone, indicating case rates are between 10-49 per 100,000 people.

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Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday announced the state is distributing one million tests to public and private schools through June.

“This testing program, which will include both rapid antigen tests and full diagnostic testing, will be available to any public or non-public schools that want to launch a testing program who want to supplement an existing testing program,” Gov. Hogan said.

Gov. Hogan indicated the state is providing “unlimited PPE”—personal protective equipment—to schools.

Twenty-two school systems in Maryland have either returned to some type of in-person instruction or plan to by March 1.

Reopening plans from local school districts are due Friday, Feb. 12, to the state’s Department of Education. All but two had submitted plans, as of 2 p.m.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Paul Gessler