Statement Sent To Baltimore City Schools Leadership

Parent and Community Advisory Board

200 E. North Avenue Room 324

Baltimore, MD 21202

Friday, December 31, 2021

To Baltimore City Public Schools Leadership,

With the highest infection rate our city has seen thus far, Baltimore City Public Schools announced it will continue with its current COVID-19 prevention strategies and welcome students back into their moderately socially distanced classroom to be pooled tested on January 5, 2022.

This strategy does not convey “prevention” - it says poor planning. Upon returning to the classroom after the Thanksgiving holiday, parents watched the infection rate fluctuate as some unknowingly sent their children back with COVID due to the lack of affordable rapid testing. Instead of planning for the next holiday after having this data, City Schools decided to wait until December 23 to announce a similar testing strategy that would bring students back into the classroom without a negative covid test on file. With the District’s plan, faculty, staff, and students will be in the school together for three school days before receiving their test results.

As parents and community members, we collectively ask that Baltimore City Public School make the following changes:

  1. The Baltimore Public Schools ask parents to print the consent form in or pick up a copy from their school to be signed and returned to the student's school by Wednesday, January 5. To ensure this form can be returned as soon as possible, the Parent and Community Advisory Board asks the District to make this a web-based form so that parents can complete this form online, download it, and email it back to schools. This allows for more families to return this form before the January 5 deadline and makes this task easier to complete for families without a printer.

  2. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Dzirasa recommends KN94, KN95, N95 masks or double masking. The Parent and Community Advisory Board request that the District confirm adequate masking has been made available for students based on that recommendation.

  3. The Parent and Community Advisory Board understand that pooled testing is the current strategy for students. In light of this new, highly contagious variant, PCAB asks leadership within Baltimore City Schools to welcome students and faculty back to the classroom only after testing results from the January 5-6 testing are available and show negative results. To ensure all testing results are available, we ask that the first day of academic instruction be pushed back to Monday, January 10. We also request the District consult with experts to determine which testing types are most effective at identifying contagious individuals, including students, teachers, staff, and others, and report back to this Board.

  4. When comparing the COVID-19 Case Tracker Dashboard with email notifications about positive cases, the community has noticed that the positive case count does not match in many cases. Schools have a higher number of cases than reported on the dashboard. The Parent and Community Advisory Board asks that leadership guarantee no more than a 24 hour lag between a case reported and when it is updated to the COVID-19 Case Tracker Dashboard, We also ask for a detailed account of how test positivity and quarantine information is communicated to staff and families, including any internal auditing procedures to ensure these critical communications are timely to prevent further spread and encourage early treatment.

  5. Parent and Community Advisory Board calls upon the leadership within Baltimore City Schools to develop COVID-19 testing protocols that include antigen testing for the following calendar academic break periods that exceed two business days: Spring Break, Summer Break, Thanksgiving, and Winter Break. We ask that the District not only test faculty, staff, and students but require all faculty, staff, and students to provide a negative result before entering for in-person learning.

Thank you for your consideration,

Members of the Parent and Community Advisory Board (PCAB)