BCPS Schools to Remain In-Person Next Week

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) announced that schools will reopen on Monday, Jan. 3 in-person at all BCPS Schools throughout Baltimore County.

With the increase in COVID cases, there was speculation that BCPS could go to an all virtual setting, but BCPS Superintendent Darryl L. Williams released an email on Thursday stating that schools will start Jan. 3 in-person. Williams also added that could change with COVID.

“With guidance from health experts and additional support from the county government, BCPS is moving forward with its plans to have students and staff return to schools and offices in-person on January 3, 2022. It is important to note that the Maryland State Department of Education also issued a statement clarifying that the expectation is that all school districts remain open for in-person learning and support for temporary transitions to virtual learning would be on a case-by-case basis.

“We know that for most students in-person learning is the best option to meet their academic and social-emotional needs. We also understand the pandemic is not over and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to keep our communities safe. In addition to the safety measures shared in the December 20, 2021, message, we are also taking the following steps effective January 3, 2022:

“Providing COVID-19 resources to students, staff and families to ensure shared understanding and promote safe learning environments. (See When to Stay Home and Recommended Isolation Calendar)

* Postponing all athletic contests and extracurricular activities until Jan. 10 to expand weekly screening testing access to all middle and high school unvaccinated students who choose to participate in after school activities.
* Obtaining KN95 masks to provide as an additional option for students and staff.
* Providing onsite PCR testing for schools experiencing persistent or school-wide COVID-19 outbreak.
* Obtaining Rapid Home Testing kits for students and staff for distribution in schools with persistent or school-wide outbreaks.
* Collaborating with the Baltimore County Department of Health to offer school-based COVID vaccine clinics.

” School nurses will also continue to conduct testing for students and staff who develop symptoms at school. We have worked with Baltimore County government to supplement our current PPE supply and procured an additional 126,000 KN95 masks and 126,000 Rapid Home Testing kits for BCPS students and staff.

Other Important Things to Note

* BCPS may move individual schools or groups of schools to virtual learning after reviewing a number of factors (e.g., percent of positive student and staff cases, number of staff and students in quarantine, and special program considerations) in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Health, Maryland State Department of Education, and/or the Baltimore County Health Department. These closures will be tracked on the BCPS Web site.

* Maryland’s guidelines for quarantine and isolation have not changed. Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for a minimum of ten days. Should Maryland adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s shortened isolation and quarantine guidelines, BCPS will update its practices accordingly.

Here is What You Can Do to Help

* Please stay home if you are sick. This is critically important as many individuals with even the mildest of symptoms are testing positive for COVID-19.
* If your child tested positive for COVID-19 over the winter break and will be absent on January 3, 2022, please alert your child’s school homeroom teacher, nurse, or administrator as soon as possible.
* Get the COVID-19 vaccine. It is safe and available to everyone ages 5 and older.
* Get the booster shot. This additional shot provides an added level of protection and is available for everyone 16 and above.
* Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth whenever you are in a BCPS building or in public buildings in Baltimore County.

“The BCPS community is stronger when we work together. Your continued partnership and cooperation are critically important to keep our school communities healthy, safe and open for in-person learning. I want to wish all of Team BCPS a very happy and healthy new year in advance,” Williams said.

Essex Man Arrested in Fatal Stabbing

A man has been arrested in an Essex stabbing from Tuesday afternoon.

Baltimore County police officers responded to the Unit block of Moline Circle for a stabbing on Dec. 27 around 1 p.m.

Upon arrival, they located the victim 32-year-old Dominic Thornton. Medics transported Thornton to an area hospital where he died from his injury.

Homicide detectives arrested 24-year-old Diamond A. Dingle for first-degree murder.

Dingle is being held without bond at the Baltimore County Detention Center.

Baltimore County to Require Indoor Masks

As jurisdictions across Maryland and nationwide continue to experience rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases amid the extremely contagious omicron variant, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today declared a local state of emergency to expand Baltimore County’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new local State of Emergency will give Baltimore County the ability to quickly adopt emergency public health measures to protect the safety and wellbeing of residents, assist the County in requesting additional resources from the state and federal governments to support response and recovery efforts, and quickly procure materials and supplies necessary for protecting public health.

“We’ve made undeniable progress in our fight against this deadly virus, but it is clear the omicron variant significantly challenges our efforts to combat the pandemic,” Olszewski said. “Renewing Baltimore County’s state of emergency ensures we have every tool in our toolbox to keep our residents safe and keep our children where they belong: inside the classroom.”

Baltimore County to Implement Masking Requirement until January 31, 2022

Under this new state of emergency, County Executive Olszewski today also announced a new public health order requiring all individuals ages five and over to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces in Baltimore County, effective 9 a.m. Wednesday, December 29, 2021 until January 31, 2022.

Baltimore County joins other large jurisdictions across Maryland, including Baltimore City, Howard County, Prince George’s County, and Montgomery County in requiring face coverings in indoor settings.

“Government has an obligation to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our neighbors. I know firsthand that vaccines work. They help keep people out of hospitals—and keep people alive. Unfortunately, too many people have selfishly chosen to not get vaccinated” Olszewski added. “As a result, Baltimore County must now take this additional action to help limit the spread of COVID-19, reduce the burden on our healthcare system, and save lives.”

“We continue to encourage everyone to get tested if you are symptomatic or have had close contact with a confirmed case; get vaccinated if you have not already done so, and get boosted when eligible,” said Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch. “Initiating this local state of emergency alongside available testing, vaccination, and boosters will go a long way toward helping to slow the spread.”

Olszewski to Procure 100,000 Rapid At-Home Test Kits, Expand Large Scale Testing

County Executive Olszewski will allocate American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding and use emergency procurement authority under the declaration to secure 100,000 additional rapid at-home test kits to make available free to county residents.

In addition, Olszewski has directed the Baltimore County Department of Health to expand testing options by establishing an additional large-scale COVID-19 testing clinic.
Baltimore County will announce next steps on these efforts in the coming days.

Baltimore County has been a leader in efficiently and effectively delivering vaccines to residents, with over 600,000 individuals vaccinated. More than 76 percent of County residents aged 5 and older having received at least one dose.

However, since November 26, 2021, Maryland’s average positivity rate has increased over 264 percent. Over that same time, average number of Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients in Baltimore County has increased over 188 percent.

As of today, Baltimore County hospitals had only 13 staffed ICU beds available countywide.

Face Covering Requirements

Beginning Wednesday, December 29 at 9 a.m., Baltimore County residents ages five and up will be required to wear face coverings in any indoor business, service, organization, or establishment that serves the general public.

This includes, but is not limited to: retail establishments, recreational establishments, houses of worship, and other locations open to the public.

Individuals will not be required to wear a mask if:
Eating or drinking while seated at food service establishments. Face coverings are still required when otherwise moving in or about a restaurant or bar premises.
A face covering cannot be worn due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability.
Wearing a face covering would subject the person to an unsafe working condition.
Wearing a face covering would make it impossible to receive certain services, including dental care, shaving, and facial treatments.
Swimming or engaging in other physical activities
Operating any public transportation conveyance, provided that the person is the sole operator of the conveyance, and located in a separate compartment that is off-limits to riders.
This requirement is set to expire on January 31, 2022.

Olszewski most recently declared a local state of emergency in August 2021 amid the peak of the Delta variant spike earlier this year.

The Baltimore County Council will hold a vote to consider continuation of the County’s state of emergency beyond Monday, January 3, 2022 at the Council meeting scheduled for Monday, January 3.

All residents are encouraged to continue taking precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

To get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot, please visit baltimorecountymd.gov/vaccine or by contacting your local urgent care, pharmacy, or your primary care provider.

Sparrows Point Man Wins $100K From Lottery

A Sparrows Point father of two made a decision worth $100,000 when he opted against waiting in line to claim a prize on a winning Lottery ticket.

“I was at the grocery getting dinner for the family,” he said, “and I had a winner I wanted to cash.” However, by the time the busy dad finished shopping and made his way to the Lottery vending machine, another player was using it.

“I decided to go next door,” he said.

The Sparrows Point resident cashed in his winning ticket at Edgemere Convenience Store in Baltimore, and while he was there he decided to buy two scratch-offs. The construction worker played both games in the store. The first ticket was not a winner, but then he revealed a “10” symbol on his Power 10s scratch-off. The $10 game’s instructions say, “Reveal a ‘10’ symbol, win that PRIZE automatically.” Our top-secret winner discovered that the prize to go along with his “10” symbol was $100,000! And then the shock set in.

“I about fell over!” he said.

The 40-year-old quietly checked the scratch-off using the store’s ticket scanner to confirm his big win before heading home with the groceries to share the great news with his wife. The lucky winner says the $100,000 windfall will go into a savings account.

The Power 10s scratch-off launched in November and has plenty of prizes remaining. There are seven more $100,000 top prizes, 16 $10,000 prizes and 41 $1,000 prizes.

Also a winner is Edgemere Convenience Store located at 7308 North Point Road. The Baltimore County retailer earns a bonus of $1,000 from the Lottery for selling a $100,000 top-prize winning scratch-off.

Essex Shooting Reported on Glenwood Road

Baltimore County Police responded to the Unit block of Glenwood Road in Essex for a reported shooting On Monday, Dec. 20 at approximately 1:30 p.m.

When officers arrived they located an adult male suffering from a gunshot wound. Medics transported the victim to an area hospital where he underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries.

As detectives with the Baltimore County Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit continue to investigate this case, they are asking anyone who might have information about this shooting to contact them at 410-307-2020.

Two Men Killed in Dundalk Crash on Eastern and Merritt

Baltimore County police reported a driver of a 2007 Honda Civic was traveling northbound on the ramp from Merritt Boulevard onto Eastern Avenue in Dundalk when the Civic struck a utility pole.

The crash was reported on Thursday, Dec. 16, at approximately 2:30 a.m.

The driver, 19-year-old Joshua Bandoo and 20-year-old Colby Boyd, a passenger in the vehicle, were pronounced deceased at the scene.

Three additional passengers were transported to area hospitals for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

The circumstances surrounding this crash remain under investigation by members of the Baltimore County Police Department

Olszewski Tests Positive for COVID-19

Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski announced on Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He released a statement on Twitter.

“As part of my regular testing regimen, I received a positive PCR test for COVID-19. I am both vaccinated and boosted. I’m asymptomatic and currently feel fine,” Olszewski said.

“This is a critical reminder of the challenges we all continue face amid the highly contagious Omicron variant.”

Olszewski added that he will quarantine and work from home. He stated the he has contacted the Department of Health about close contacts.

BCPS Schools Stay Open; Extracurricular Activities Canceled

Baltimore County Public Schools sent out an email to parents on Monday morning stated that the school system will remain open for in-person at this time, but announced all before and after school non-athletic extracurricular activities will be suspended from Wednesday, Dec. 22 through Friday, Jan. 7.
All athletic events will be continue during scheduled school days, but all sporting events will be canceled during Winter Break.

BCPS Superintendent Darryl L. Williams released the following statement in an email.

“The sharp increase in positive cases and rapid spread of COVID-19 across the county, state, and country is deeply concerning, and I know many of you are worried about what it means for our school system and our efforts to keep our school buildings open and provide in-person learning for our students five days a week. I want to be clear—the health and safety of the Baltimore County Public Schools’ (BCPS) community remains our top priority. The decisions we make as a school system, while navigating the complexities of this ongoing pandemic, are guided by our commitment to ensure the health and wellness of our students and staff. We also know that for most of our students, their academic and social-emotional needs are best met when they are in person.

“As a result of our comprehensive COVID-19 health and safety practices, we can and will maintain in-person learning five days a week for all students. Our school buildings will remain open at this time. However, we cannot ignore the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in Baltimore County, which have led to an increased number of cases in our schools in recent weeks. We will implement the following measures immediately to ensure we can continue to keep our school buildings open for teaching and learning:

“All in-person, before and after school non-athletic extracurricular activities are suspended from Wednesday, December 22, 2021, through Friday, January 7, 2022. This includes clubs, programs, and in-person tutoring. Schools are encouraged to transition to virtual meetings if possible. Community use of school buildings, including daycare programs, can continue as scheduled.

“Athletic practices and games may continue as scheduled given that student athletes are required to provide proof of vaccination or participate in weekly testing as a condition for participation. All games during the Winter Break (December 23, 2021 – January 2, 2022) are cancelled; optional masked practices are allowed. Beginning Monday, December 20, 2021, if a team has three or more active positive COVID-19 cases, team activities will be paused for 14 days. We want to remind all members of the community attending our games that masks are always required.

“In cases where the Baltimore County Department of Health identifies an outbreak and there is concern about increased spread of COVID-19 in a specific school, BCPS will work with health officials to determine next steps in accordance with the BCPS Response to Shifting Metrics.
BCPS will only close all schools and move to districtwide virtual instruction if required to do so by local and/or state government officials. The district will continue to work closely with the Baltimore County Department of Health to monitor cases in our schools. We will provide an update on our efforts by Thursday, December 30, 2021.
Next Steps and How You Can Help

“This is a rapidly changing situation and we need your continued support and partnership. In an effort to proactively prepare for any county and/or state ordered change to school operations, we ask that all students and staff bring their devices and chargers home for the winter break. We hold weekly meetings with health experts from the Baltimore County Department of Health, Johns Hopkins University, and University of Maryland to evaluate COVID-19 metrics and review our health and safety strategies as we respond to changing conditions. Here are some additional steps you can take to help us keep school buildings open for in-person instruction:

“* Get vaccinated. If you were vaccinated before May 2021 or you have only received a single dose of the J & J vaccine prior to October 2021, please consider getting a booster dose.
* Stay home if you are sick and get tested if exposed to someone who has tested positive for the Coronavirus.
* Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth at all times whenever you are in a BCPS building or school facility.
* Wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.

“If you are gathering or traveling for the holidays, please follow the safety recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As we prepare to close for the winter break, we ask that all staff and students bring their devices and chargers home for the break.”

Dundalk Man Arrested in Porch Package Theft

A Dundalk man was arrested in Harford County and charged in a porch package theft.

The Harford County Sheriff’s Office reported an arrest was made after packages were stolen from the Belcamp area.

John Brock, 37, was arrested at his Dundalk home on Thursday night.

Brock was taken to the Harford County Detention Center where he was charged on multiple counts of theft.

He was later released on his own recognizance after his initial appearance with the District Court Commissioner.

The investigation is continuing, and additional charges are still pending.