Six staffers and 56 students across Frederick County Public Schools tested positive for the coronavirus last week, according to the district’s updated health metrics dashboard.
Walkersville High School had the most cases of any school, with 10 students and one staffer testing positive. New Market Elementary School was next, with eight students testing positive.
Since the beginning of the school year on Aug. 18, 103 positive cases have been recorded on the district’s dashboard. The numbers are updated each Monday and represent the cases from the previous week, according to FCPS.
Nine schools or programs have met the state criteria for an outbreak since the school year began: Lewistown, Hillcrest, Tuscarora and Butterfly Ridge elementary schools, Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School, the SUCCESS program, Thurmont Middle School and Tuscarora and Walkersville high schools.
According to the Maryland Department of Health, two or more confirmed cases among students or staff who are epidemiologically linked — but who don’t share a household — constitute a “classroom/cohort outbreak.”
FCPS spokesman Brandon Oland said five of the outbreaks actually stem from the same two cases. The Tuscarora Elementary, Orchard Grove, Hillcrest, Butterfly Ridge and SUCCESS program outbreaks are all the result of two linked cases on a school bus that all five groups use, he said.
Still, they’re listed separately on the Maryland state coronavirus page, and school system emails went out to families at each school.
The district’s dashboard comes with a caveat: If a single positive case visits multiple schools, that single case may be reported multiple times because it could appear in each school’s total.
As of Wednesday of last week, about 600 students, or roughly 1 percent of the system’s population, were in quarantine after coming into contact with a positive case, according to FCPS Superintendent Terry Alban. That number changes daily, but FCPS doesn’t regularly report it.
Some community members have urged the district to update its dashboard more frequently than once per week and to include the number of students in quarantine.
Missy Dirks, chair of the Frederick County Teachers Association, told the News-Post last week that her members had expressed support for the idea. Board of Education members Sue Johnson and Liz Barrett supported those changes, too.