MCPS Details All-Virtual First Semester

Montgomery County Public Schools’ plan for the first semester, while totally virtual, is designed to be as similar to an in-school day as possible and includes virtual extracurricular activities, free lunches and distribution of all necessary technical equipment.

Superintendent Jack Smith released a 43-page “Reimagine, Reopen, Recover” draft plan that will be presented to the Board of Education on Thursday.

The school day will run from 9 a.m. until 3:15 p.m., with specific, spelled-out class times for elementary, middle and high school students. Some classes may be recorded for later viewing for students who are caregivers or don’t have availability at certain times.

Unlike the end of the previous school years, students will be graded on “a more standardized and traditional grading system for the fall semester,” according to the plan. Attendance and participation will be recorded.

As school begins, “All students will have live (synchronous) instruction and a full day of instructional experiences,” Smith wrote. That means “full class periods, with teachers fully engaged with their students for the duration of the lesson.”

MCPS “is committed to providing high-quality instruction and keeping all students and staff safe,” Smith wrote in the draft.

High school generally will have four full class periods each day with other time for live academic and/or social emotional support. Every class will meet at least two times every week. All students will have non-scheduled class time for independent work or to receive support.

Students with disabilities will receive services required by federal and state law and regulations.

Athletics, fine arts, leadership and other extracurricular activities will be presented virtually.

State and county regulations have forced MCPS to remain out of the classroom as the school year begins Aug. 31. Smith acknowledged that is “very disappointing news for the many members of our community who were hoping to have in-person teaching and learning resume in the fall.”

However, he noted that MCPS’s virtual learning model will “ensure excellence, access and equity in the learning experience for all of our students.” Education will be “robust and dynamic,” he noted. He added that plans could change as needed depending on feedback from parents, staff and students. The plan will be reevaluated in November.

MCPS’ 24,000 employees will receive professional development on such topics as culturally responsive environment for all students, technology and social-emotional learning.

During the first semester, MCPS will set up models for returning to the classroom in 2021, if possible.

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