BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Students and teachers are now back in class at Anne Arundel, Carroll and Harford County schools.

“When you get the students back in the building it truly is a school,” said George Arlotto, Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent.

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After a year of both virtual and part-time in-person learning, school officials have been working to bring students back into classrooms full-time while taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“You know it was hard last year with the virtual. Some kids did fine with the virtual others really struggled and we just know that the in-person reaching is really so much better,” said Sean Bulson, Superintendent of Harford County Public Schools.

Extensive regular cleaning, plexiglass barriers and distancing when possible are some of the steps schools are taking to reduce the chance of spreading the virus in schools.

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“One of the things that we have to do is minimize the risk of COVID infection and flu so that we keep kids in the classroom,” said Stuart Pittman, Anne Arundel County Executive.

Masks are required in Anne Arundel and Harford County schools but they are optional in Carroll County schools, a move that has been controversial.

“It’s up to the local jurisdiction and also parent choice,” said Marsha Herbert, president of the Carroll County Board of Education.

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A universal mask mandate for all public schools in Maryland was passed by the State Board of Education last month. The mandate is not effective yet because a legislative committee still has to vote on whether or not to approve it. That committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Stetson Miller