MCPS Drops Threshold Numbers to Trigger Consideration of Virtual Learning

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) announced it will no longer use a certain threshold to trigger consideration for moving an individual school to virtual learning. 

Fewer than three weeks ago on Dec. 20, 2021, Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight said that starting this new year, if at least 5% of unrelated students and staff test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, with a minimum of 10 people testing positive, then county Health and Human Services and MCPS will work together to determine if that particular school building should close for 14 days and revert to virtual learning.

In a message Friday afternoon, McKnight and County Acting Health Officer Dr. James Bridgers said this new decision results from clarifications from the state about how to use thresholds for transitioning to virtual learning. 

“The state of Maryland does not currently recommend any automatic trigger or threshold for the suspension of in-person learning,” they said. 

Earlier this week during a news briefing Tuesday, officials announced that 11 of the 209 public schools would not return to the classroom Wednesday for at least 14 calendar days due to hitting the threshold. Those 11 schools will get more information about next steps by Sunday afternoon, according to the MCPS message.

Now, MCPS and county Health and Human Services will look at schools on a case-by-case basis to decide if any school needs to go virtual for a period of time. Factors include number of students and staff who test positive, number of students quarantined, number of staff absent due to COVID-19 and level of spread in a school. Any student who tests positive is required to isolate for 10 days from either the date they tested positive or from onset of symptoms, whichever came first. 

According to the message, take-home rapid COVID-19 tests will be given to all students and staff by early next week.

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