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Maryland School Districts Wrestle COVID-19 Protocols As Infection Rate Soars

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- As a parent at Hilltop Elementary School in Anne Arundel County, Kierra says this new surge in Covid cases is stressful, "it's kinda put me on edge a little bit."

It's also causing school districts across the state to make some tough decisions as the Omicron variant takes its effect on Maryland's schools.

In Anne Arundel County Monday, George Arlotto, the Superintendent, announced a change in their quarantine protocols starting in January, "no asymptomatic student will quarantine," he said during a virtual meeting.

The move is an effort to keep more students in school, after Board of Education member, Melissa Ellis, said "hundreds upon hundreds of students, healthy students, are being kept out of school" due to the current protocols.

This change comes even as COVID cases continue to rise in Anne Arundel County. "The situation is getting worse," said Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the county's Health Officer.

And in Baltimore County, their superintendent sent a letter Monday warning staff and students they should prepare for possible closures, asking them to bring their devices and chargers home for the winter break.

But in Prince George's County, all students transitioned to virtual learning Monday. The virtual learning is temporary and is scheduled until January 18, 2022.

"I had to make a decision in conjunction with our health department for what was best for our community," said Dr. Monico Goldson, CEO of Prince George's County Public Schools, in an interview with WJLA.

It was a decision that received pushback from Governor Larry Hogan who said, "shutting down an entire school system of kids that have struggled with virtual learning for an entire year is just outrageous and wrong."

Along those who struggled is second-grader, Gavin, whose favorite subject is math because he said he knows plus and minus.

Gavin's father, Adrian, said Gavin and his entire class at Hilltop Elementary are still catching up after a year of virtual learning. "The whole class is behind on what they're supposed to know," Adrian said.

In a statement from the Maryland Department of Education Monday, Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury said "there is a strong consensus schools can and should stay open for in-person learning and school leaders must do everything in their power to keep them open."

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