Just five days after students returned to school in Montgomery County, Maryland, approximately 1,000 students and staff are in quarantine.
As dozens of reports of individuals who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 at Montgomery County schools are recorded, the school system updated the quarantine guidance for unvaccinated students.
“We understand the concern. We understand the disruption for families, but we have to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” schools spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala told WTOP.
The school system is ensuring that there’s continuation of instruction and minimal disruption by having students still interacting live with their teachers.
Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight sent an update Friday night explaining that the updated policy comes “under the direction of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services” and that it’s “in alignment” with state health and education agencies.
McKnight told the school community, “We have faced challenges this first week.” This included longer bus routes, traffic congestion, some school closures due to water main breaks and outages, and severe weather.
Under the policy, unvaccinated students who have been in close contact with anyone showing any single symptom of COVID-19 will be sent home.
Students who are sent home because they’ve been in close contact with an individual who is symptomatic can return to school if the person they were exposed to tests negative, or has a doctor’s diagnosis that shows the symptoms were from something other than COVID-19.
Students will have to quarantine for 10 days “in the absence of a negative COVID-19 test or alternate medical diagnosis” from the person with whom they had close contact.
As of Friday night, the Montgomery County schools COVID-19 cases dashboard included more than 40 letters from officials at schools across the district reporting on cases of individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Earlier, WTOP heard from a number of sources of schools with multiple classes of students who were sent home to quarantine and learn from home.
Onijala said that all students have a device that they were given over the course of the pandemic. She said something the schools are working toward to ensure a safe environment is “that we don’t have to move all of our schools and all of our students to virtual learning. We’re absolutely doing everything we can to make sure that exact thing doesn’t happen.”
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