Board of Education Reduces Graduation Requirements; Clarifies Opening Procedures

The Montgomery County Public School Class of 2021 will be required to complete only three math credits and a half credit of physical education prior to graduation. Before the pandemic, seniors needed four credits in math and a full credit in physical education in order to graduate. These reduced requirements now match what is required by Maryland.

The Board of Education (BOE) Tuesday unanimously agreed to these changes during a lengthy discussion, which included details about returning into the classroom, which will begin March 1 for some students.

About 5,500 of MCPS’s 24,000 employees have been vaccinated so far. The BOE intends to write to County Executive Marc Elrich to ask that teachers got first priority for the vaccine. Currently the county is focusing on residents who are at least 75 years old or live in an area with a high rate of coronavirus.

MCPS has improved ventilation in individual buildings. According to Seth Adams, director of the department of facilities management, 65,000 filters have been changed and 5,000 air cleaners have been installed to support existing systems, where necessary.

Water fountains in the halls and classrooms have been disabled, he said.

Previously, the BOE had stated it wouldn’t welcome students back into the classroom unless certain health measures were met. According to Derek Turner, MCPS chief of engagement, as of Feb. 19, there are 12.2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 for every 100,000 residents and the COVID-19 positive test rate dipped below 5% to 3.3%. “That’s very positive news,” he said.

MCPS will continue its partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services so there will be enough nurses and health technicians in the building to help students and also man an isolation room for any student with symptoms.

When students return to the classroom, they will have to wear masks and maintain social distancing. They also will be asked weekly about how they feel and whether they have been in close contact with anyone who tested positive. Every family will be given a digital thermometer and asked to use them every morning before going to school.

Students will eat lunch together, but will face in one direction so no students will sit face to face. Older students will be permitted to eat outside, but they will not be allowed to leave the campus.

A microphone in each classroom will enable students at home learning virtually to hear students in the classroom.

Students will self-test for the virus in their classroom by swabbing their own noses and then dropping the swab into a test tube. Results of a rapid test will show whether there are any positive cases in the room. If that happens, then students will be tested individually, school officials explained. .

This was the BOE’s first in-person meeting in almost a year. President Brenda Wolff, Vice President Karla Silvestre, Sheba Evans, Rebecca Smondrowski and Lynne Harris were in attendance while the other members attended virtually.

About 500 students, many of them special education students, are expected to return March 1. Kindergarten through third grade and career and technical education students will return March 15. No later than April 6, students in grades four, five, six and twelve as well as pre-kindergarten will return to in-school instruction.

No later than April 19, students in eighth, ninth and eleventh grades are expected to return. Finally, no later than April 26, the two remaining grades will be enter the buildings for classes. Students have the choice of learning in-school or virtually.

Related Post

MCPS Will Return to In-School Learning with Phased-In Approach March 1

 

 

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Suzanne Pollak

About Suzanne Pollak

Suzanne is a freelance reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters and the web.

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