By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thousands of central Maryland students are in quarantine as more students and staff are testing positive for COVID-19.

In Carroll County public schools, there are more than 200 positive cases and more than 1200 students are in quarantine.

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Northwest Middle School had to shut down for two days because of an outbreak. The school is expected to reopen Thursday. WJZ saw a testing center set up outside the school today.

Brian Schisler has three children in the Carroll County Public school system. He said he and his wife—along with their children—recently tested positive.

He said the symptoms are mostly mild. “Our 12-year-old who has asthma is just now starting to get better. She had four pretty rough days. She had a sore body, tightness in her chest,” the father said.

Schisler told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren his children wore masks in school, even though Carroll County made them optional at the start of the new school year.

“I think we started off not with the best foot forward. I think then the numbers slapped them in the face. Now, they’re understanding this is still here,” Schisler told Hellgren.

Schisler believes his family contracted the virus through the schools.

“Honestly, I believe that’s where it came from—especially the elementary school. Understand, it’s got to be very difficult to keep masks on kids in elementary school,” he said.

Schisler said he may home school his children once they have fully recovered. “The other thing was people were pulled into thinking if you got the vaccine, you would not get covid. From what I’m seeing, a lot of people who were vaccinated are starting to get covid.”

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Maureen Aversa has two children in Carroll County schools who have been vaccinated. Still, she is concerned. She fought the school board’s decision to make masks optional, which state lawmakers later overruled.

“What we want is a safe learning environment for our children,” Aversa told Hellgren. “Let’s think about how many kids we are putting out of school unnecessarily because this board wanted to wait and see what happens and because we’re different in Carroll County,” Aversa said.

Lindsay Jensen pulled her two children out of Carroll County schools over concern about their initial lack of mandatory masking. She started a petition in favor of a school mask mandate that garnered more than 2,500 signatures.

“I have no trust in our board of ed to do what is right by our kids,” Jensen told Hellgren.

Other school districts are seeing cases rise including in Anne Arundel County, which has 1335 students and 29 staff members in quarantine and 223 active, positive cases among students. There are 18 active, positive cases among staff.

Public schools in Howard County have recorded more than 50 positive cases in the past seven days.

Baltimore City schools have had 247 cases in the past ten days.

Baltimore County public schools reported 240 cases through Sept. 17.

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The largest outbreaks as reported by Maryland’s Department of Health include 39 cases at Margaret Brent Middle School in St. Mary’s County. There have been 37 cases at Talmudical Academy in Baltimore County. Leonardtown High School has 25 cases. Broadfording Christian Academy in Washington County has 25 cases. Carter G. Woodson Elementary in Somerset County has 23 cases, and Friends School in Baltimore City has 23 cases.