Board of Education Votes to Remain in Virtual Learning Until March 15
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, the Board of Education voted to delay the start of returning small groups of students for in-person instruction from February 1, 2021 to March 15, 2021, on the condition that health metrics are met or health guidance is adjusted as a result of vaccine distribution. The COVID-19 new case rate and test positivity in the county remain significantly above the thresholds adopted by the county and state.
We understand that many MCPS families will be disappointed that we are unable to return to in-person instruction on February 1. The safety of students and staff has, and will continue to, guide our return to in-person learning. The current numbers simply do not support a return at this time.
We remain committed to enhancing the virtual learning experience for our students. During the Board meeting, MCPS staff shared several improvements that will be made in the coming weeks that will improve the learning experiences for all students, with a focus on the secondary level. These improvements include:
- Focused outreach services for struggling students
- Greater use of the Wednesday virtual check-in day for students who need academic and social-emotional support
- At the secondary level, providing opportunities to request an abbreviated schedule to lighten course load and take a course over the summer or in future semesters instead
- Relaxing restrictions to allow students to take up to two courses Credit/No Credit (also known as Pass/Fail) instead of a letter grade
- Providing additional instructional times that may involve Saturdays, including for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses
- Tutoring and homework help options
- Providing additional professional development for staff to help strengthen the virtual learning experience
In order to take advantage of some of these options, students/parents will need to consult with their school counselor to make any schedule adjustments for the second semester and to ensure progress toward graduation requirements and post-secondary planning.
These adjustments for the second semester are in addition to adjustments that are already in place with curriculum, assessments and grading for the second marking period.
Additionally, MCPS continues to plan for the fall sports season and will provide updates regarding interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities in the coming weeks.
We must all continue to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The Board will meet again on Feb. 23, 2021, to determine if metrics can be met by March 15 for a safe return to in-person learning. More information will be shared with the community following the Feb. 23 Board of Education decision. Over the next few weeks, MCPS will continue working with school administrators to finalize what in-person experiences will look like once students return to school buildings. Thank you for your continued support of our students.