By Rohan Mattu

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County Public Schools on Thursday announced it intends to resume in-person instruction on Jan. 3 as initially planned.

The decision comes as some schools in the region take steps to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases, spurred by the Omicron variant. The increase in infections has broken hospitalization records in the state and has seen an increase in pediatric hospitalizations.

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Last week, the district announced it would suspend all non-athletic extracurricular activities temporarily, but didn’t commit to further action. The district said last Monday it is committed to remaining open, and will only return to virtual instruction if required by local or state government.

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In the event that local or state government did take action, the school system sent staff and students home for break with their devices and chargers.

“We know that for most students, in-person learning is the best option to meet their academic and social-emotional needs,” the school system said Thursday. “We also understand the pandemic is not over and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to keep our communities safe.”

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The district announced these safety steps, effective Monday:

  • Providing COVID-19 resources to students, staff, and families to ensure shared understanding and promote safe learning environments. (See When to Stay Home and Recommended Isolation Calendar)
  • Postponing all athletic contests and extracurricular activities until January 10, 2022, to expand weekly screening testing access to all middle and high school unvaccinated students who choose to participate in after-school activities. Please see the student consent form here.
  • Obtaining KN95 masks to provide as an additional option for students and staff.
  • Providing onsite PCR testing for schools experiencing a persistent or schoolwide COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Obtaining Rapid Home Testing kits for students and staff for distribution in schools with persistent or schoolwide outbreaks.
  • Collaborating with the Baltimore County Department of Health to offer school-based COVID vaccine clinics.