BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Public Schools reduced its quarantine time to five days for students and staff as dozens of schools remain in temporary virtual instruction.

The changes follow Centers for Disease Control and Maryland Department of Health guidance, a school district announcement stated.

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Sixty-five schools in Baltimore City were in a temporary virtual instruction mode on Friday, representing about 40% of the district’s schools.

Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School juniors Keith Helfer and Summer Hubbard told WJZ students are on the verge of walkouts.

“I guess paranoia would almost be the word to describe it,” said Helfer. “A virtual option would help people who don’t feel safe at schools right now.”

The five-day quarantine policy starts Tuesday. Students and staff must be fever-free for 24 hours and symptoms improving before they can return to school. More information on the policy can be found at baltimorecityschools.org.

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The district also started a “test to stay” policy for elementary and middle school students and staff. Those in a positive test pool must test negative the next school day to stay in school.

Hubbard said testing has improved, but she wants a virtual option.

“It feels a little bit too chaotic to keep my mind on my studies,” she said.

The school system’s COVID-19 dashboard is not up to date coming off the winter break, but 500 staff members districtwide were positive from last week’s testing.

Ten teachers combined at Holabird Academy and Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School were out Thursday when WJZ cameras were invited in. Some workers were brought in from the central office to help.

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Hubbard said students have noticed more substitute teachers, too.

Paul Gessler