Anne Arundel County Public Schools will require employees and high school student-athletes to certify they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing beginning November 22, 2021, Superintendent George Arlotto announced today.
Dr. Arlotto has previously stated that he favors the implementation of a vaccination-or-testing model, and the school system has been putting the final logistical steps in place to enact it for several weeks. As it has on COVID-related matters since the inception of the pandemic, the school system has been discussing the model with the Anne Arundel County Department of Health.
“We still need to finalize some parts of the plan, but announcing an effective date now allows our employees and families of our high school students to begin to either gather the necessary information or become fully vaccinated by November 22 if they choose to do so,” Dr. Arlotto said.
While discussions initially centered around employees, they began to include student-athletes as the number of positive COVID-19 cases and the number of people in quarantine rose dramatically in recent weeks. Student-athletes already undergo health screenings to ensure they are fit to compete. Requiring vaccinations or testing among student-athletes will help ensure that AACPS can continue full competitive seasons in the winter and spring, Dr. Arlotto said.
“Vaccinations are the single most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones,” Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said. “The goal of our collaborative efforts is to keep our schools open, and this is a key step towards doing exactly that.”
A process for submitting vaccination certifications and a weekly testing protocol will be announced by mid-October.
The school system is also finalizing a contract with a vendor to provide surveillance testing of unvaccinated students whose families provide consent to do so. Testing for symptomatic students and staff have been available in school health rooms since last spring.