Before spring break, parents in Montgomery County, Maryland, were given COVID-19 test kits and were asked to administer them Monday, the day before the return to classes.
By the end of the day, Montgomery County Public Schools reported 503 positive COVID-19 tests, school system spokesperson Chris Cram said.
And on Wednesday, Sean O’Donnell of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services reported that the latest results — which he said could include students and staff who tested at other locations — showed a total of 631 COVID-19 cases.
At the end of winter break, he said, more than 6,000 cases were identified — “so this is certainly a very different place that they’re in,” he said.
There are 166,000 students in the county’s public schools.
Montgomery County’s COVID-19 community transmission remains in the low range, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as fewer than 200 cases per 100,000 residents. That level is now at 134, O’Donnell said, and while COVID-19 case numbers are rising, those cases are not increasing anywhere near the rate of the previous omicron spike.
O’Donnell spoke during a weekly media briefing with Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, who repeated his criticism of a federal judge’s ruling this week overturning the federal mask mandate on public transportation.
“This ruling is nuts,” Elrich said. While the county rescinded the mask mandate on the Ride On bus system, “We’re going to continue to monitor our transmission rates and our legal options regarding masking.”
“We continue to highly encourage people to wear masks on our buses as well as in crowded indoor areas,” said Elrich, adding: “I’ve always thought they were kind of a minimalist approach to making sure that we could protect people. Always.”
D.C. Public Schools, which also required students to test before returning from spring break, said Wednesday that as of noon, it recorded 174 positive cases from 34,987 student tests and 96 positive staff cases among 8,104 completed tests.
Prince George’s County schools, which had a similar testing requirement, reported 448 cases this week. WTOP contacted the school system for the number of students who submitted results.