BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As schools across Maryland prepare for students to return to the classrooms in some form, Baltimore City Public Schools plans to offer weekly COVID-19 testing for all students and staff members.

The tests will be offered to people regardless of whether they are showing symptoms of the virus or not in an effort to provide early detection of possible cases.

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“This asymptomatic testing really is part of our commitment to keeping our staff safe, to keep students safe and to provide families with a truly viable in-person learning option,” Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises said.

Dr. Santelises said the testing will complement other efforts like social distancing, personal protective equipment and cleaning.

Under the current plan, elementary and middle school students and staff members will swab themselves.

Results at the elementary school level will be pooled by classroom, and if a classroom pool has a positive test, all of its students and staff will need to quarantine.

“This new tool further strengthens current efforts,” Dr. Santelises said.

The tests will then be picked up by a mobile lab from the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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At the high school level, students and staff members will use saliva-based tests that will be processed at a lab in Washington, D.C.

Results will be available within eight hours through an app.

Some students pushed back.

“I think it is helpful, but I don’t think it’s enough,” Kimberly Vasquez, a student at Baltimore City College, said.

Some said they’re still concerned about public transportation, and they want teachers to be fully vaccinated before heading back.

“This puts students in a position to choose between grades and the health of ourselves, our families and our teachers,” Aniyah Taylor, a Baltimore City Schools high school student, said.

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On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan said everyone over the age of five will be required to wear masks in schools, including classrooms, gyms and hallways.

Kelsey Kushner