Class required to wear masks after COVID outbreak in Montgomery Co. school

Students and staff in one class at a public school in Montgomery County, Maryland, are being told that they must wear masks for the next 10 days after three “or more” people tested positive for COVID-19.

In a letter sent home to parents on Tuesday, Rosemary Hills Elementary School principal Rebecca Irwin Kennedy wrote that KN95 masks would be distributed and students and staff in “identified classes or activities” will be required to mask up while in school for the next 10 days “except when eating or drinking.”

The letter states that after a 10-day period, “masks will become optional again.”

That period will end on Sept. 11, according to school system spokesperson Christopher Cram.

At-home rapid test kits are also being sent home and made available for students. Parents are being asked to report any positive test results to the school attendance office.

Kennedy advises that if students develop symptoms similar to the virus, including fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, “they should stay home from school, and be tested for COVID-19.”

Anyone who tests positive should stay at home for at least five days and isolate from others in their home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “you are most likely infectious during these first five days.”

In its back-to-school message to the community, the Montgomery County Public School system stated that COVID-19 vaccination is “strongly recommended,” but that individual cases of COVID would not result in notifications sent out to families. But the school system advises that “staff and students will be notified about exposures to multiple cases in a possible outbreak situation.”

On its masking policy, the school system stated that “masks are optional with some exceptions” and are “still required per CDC recommendations for individuals recovering from a COVID-19 infection returning after day 5, and may be recommended or required in outbreak situations.”

In the policy, signed by the school system’s Health Officer Dr. Patricia Kapunan, the emphasis is on being able to protect the health of staff and students “and ensure continued access to in-person learning.”

Here is more information from MCPS on the school system’s back-to-school COVID-19 policy.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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