Several local schools shifted to virtual learning this week amid an omicron-fueled surge in coronavirus cases among students and staff, as reported by the school system on its COVID-19 dashboard on Jan. 3. 

In total, 27 Baltimore County schools, or specific grades or programs within those schools, have reached a positivity rate threshold of at least 5%, or have a minimum of 10 students and/or staff who have confirmed COVID-19 within a 14-day period. Some other factors also could have been considered.

“As we are realizing, this new (Omicron) variant is incredibly transmissible and is impacting a lot of people who have perhaps been able to evade the virus up to this point,” Baltimore County Public Schools spokesperson Charles Herndon said in an interview. 

At the local level, the following schools have gone virtual: Chapel Hill Elementary, Sandalwood Elementary, Fullerton Elementary, Parkville Middle, Parkville High and Victory Villa Elementary School. Grade 6 at Stemmers Run Middle and prekindergarten at Red House Run Elementary have also gone virtual.

BCPS students were scheduled to return to school buildings on Jan. 3, as per a letter sent to parents, guardians, students and staff by Superintendent Darryl Williams last week. But the spike in cases and the snowfall event that occurred on Monday has disrupted that return.

All sports and extracurricular activities are postponed until Jan. 10, the superintendent’s letter also stated; this is so the school system can expand access to COVID-19 screening for unvaccinated students. BCPS is also collaborating with the Baltimore County Department of Health to offer vaccine clinics at schools.

“This variant is fast moving, and (BCPS) is trying to get information out as quickly as we can,” Herndon said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding at this time.”

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