Five Things You Need to Know About the Return to In-Person Learning
During the February 23 Board of Education meeting, MCPS staff shared more information about the return-to-school plan.
1. The timeline and groups of students that will return has not changed. The Board discussed potentially reviewing and accelerating the timeline for return at their March 23 meeting.
2. Safety is our top priority. MCPS has spent more than $15 million to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (masks, sanitizer, gloves, etc.) and make significant improvements to HVAC and safety systems. This includes filter upgrades and installing air cleaner units (65,000 filters have been changed and 5,000 air cleaners have been installed to support existing systems). Working together, we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following specific measures, including:
- Wearing face coverings
- Physical distancing
- Frequent hand-washing and sanitizing
- Enhanced cleaning of schools and classrooms
- Weekly health attestations
- Working with state and county officials to provide vaccinations for staff
- Addressing building airflow/water systems
- Implementing COVID-19 testing protocols
- Contact tracing
3. Free COVID-19 testing will be provided for students and staff. COVID-19 testing will take place at every school and will be available beginning March 15. Staff and students will do the nasal swab test themselves and families will be notified of positive cases in the school. Staff and students can opt out of testing—it is not mandatory. More information on our COVID-19 testing program will be shared with families soon. Students and staff will also be asked to complete a weekly health attestation form. The forms will be available in all languages and the link to the form will be sent to families soon. MCPS will work closely with county health staff on contact tracing if there is a positive case in a classroom/school. Our procedures will still require quarantine of students and staff in close contact with a COVID-positive individual.
4. Students will interact and work with teachers daily. While schools will use a combination of instructional experiences to meet the needs of students, students (both in-person and virtual) will engage with teachers and other school staff daily for support and instruction. A school’s approach may change as more students return. MCPS will also continue to make adjustments to enhance the virtual learning experience for all students. This includes more professional development for staff, promoting student well-being and providing flexible options for student schedules.
5. All meals will be provided. MCPS will continue to provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner meals to all students in schools and at designated food distribution sites. Students will be allowed to eat in a variety of locations throughout schools, including classrooms and large spaces, such as the cafeteria, as long as physical distancing and appropriate seating arrangements are utilized.
If you would like to see a model of what the safe, in-person school experience will look like, please watch this video. You can also watch the virtual community conversation that was held earlier tonight here. MCPS leaders answered questions submitted by parents, students and staff about the return-to-school plan. Additional information on the return-to-school plan can be found on the MCPS Recovery website: https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/reopening/.