Johnny Bigley, the Anne Arundel County 4-year-old whose classmates and teacher stayed away from school last year because he has herpes, is learning preschool skills in a classroom with several other children.

Since the controversy over the boy's disease, two or three other children with herpes have been admitted to the special preschool program in other county schools, officials said.

Johnny "is still very happily at Pasadena Elementary," said Mary Madeleine, director of special education for the county. "Little by little, we placed more children" in the class, which is now at an average size of about five children.

Johnny is enrolled in a special program for children who are developmentally behind their age. He is entitled to receive instruction under federal law because of a speech problem unrelated to herpes.

The boy contracted herpes, a viral disease that leads to skin lesions, shortly after birth. When he first attended school in January, all five classmates and the teacher stayed home because of fears that they would catch the disease. The local teachers union argued in a court hearing and before the county Board of Education that Johnny should be barred from school when he has any lesions on his body.

Authorities, however, ruled that Johnny could attend class unless the lesions were on his hands, head or neck.

After nearly two months working alone with a teacher, Johnny was joined by a classmate and, gradually, other pupils returned. The enrollment of additional children who have herpes has caused no similar problems, according to Madeleine.

"I think the public profited greatly from this very emotional situation," she said. "Once they got the information . . . they began to let the information trickle through and calm their fears."

Also, the new concern about whether to allow children with acquired immune deficiency syndrome in schools has "put herpes in perspective" for parents, she said.