Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) said it is deeply worried about Gov. Larry Hogan’s “abrupt” announcement urging all Maryland school districts to offer some form of in-person instruction by March 1.
“While we appreciate the commitment to provide additional resources to assist local districts with reopening efforts, we are deeply concerned by the abrupt change to the health metrics guidance set forth by the state given that we are in the height of the pandemic,” a statement from MCPS reads.
The state released updated guidance for school systems to begin offering some form of in-person learning. MCPS said it will take time to assess the guidance and will continue working with county and state health officials.
Elected school boards reserve the authority to reopen schools for classroom instruction.
MCPS previously aimed for Feb. 1 to begin phasing students into classrooms. On Jan. 12, Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith recommended the school system delay that to March 15, due to COVID-19 health metrics and because vaccine distribution is still in its beginning stages. All but one board member approved the recommendation, so it passed. The school board is scheduled to meet again Feb. 23 to decide if metrics will allow for a safe reopening.
MCPS is using a health metric matrix as a guide for assessing a phased-in return to school buildings.
During a press conference Thursday, Hogan said if school systems can’t commit to returning to the classroom, Maryland “will explore…legal avenue[s].”
Read Thursday’s full statement from MCPS:
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is committed to the safe return to in-person learning for all students. Today (Jan. 21), Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon provided an update on the state’s recovery efforts. During the press conference, they announced a change in approach to following specific health metrics for a safe return to in-person learning and demanded that school districts across the state reopen for in-person instruction by March 1. While we appreciate the commitment to provide additional resources to assist local districts with reopening efforts, we are deeply concerned by the abrupt change to the health metrics guidance set forth by the state given that we are in the height of the pandemic.
We know many in our community will have questions about what this announcement means for our students, staff and the MCPS recovery plan. Please allow us time to thoughtfully assess these important developments and continue to prepare for a successful start to the second semester. We will continue to collaborate closely with our state and county health officials and leaders. We know that they understand and share our sense of urgency in getting students back in buildings as soon as possible and as safely as possible. Our focus remains on the academic needs and the health and safety of our students and staff.