If public health conditions allow it, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will begin phasing in students for in-person learning on Jan. 12, 2021, School Board President Shebra Evans said at a meeting Friday.
MCPS officials displayed a matrix that shows what metrics are being used to evaluate a safe phased-in return to school buildings. It uses the 14-day average new case rate per 100,000 people and the 14-day average test positivity rate. The measures are based on CDC guidelines, MCPS Spokesperson Derek Turner said.
See MCPS’ metric matrix below:
— MCPS (@MCPS) November 6, 2020
In January, students in discrete special education programs at all levels will be among the first to return to school buildings, if the health metrics allow it, said Learning, Achievement, and Administration Director Dr. Peter Moran.
Kevin Lowndes, Associate Superintendent the Special Education, said the first group of students in special education programs to phase-in will include students who cannot physically distance or wear a face mask at all times. MCPS will provide additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff interacting with those students, which will be “above and beyond” the PPE given to all staff returning to buildings, he said.
MCPS will not need to ration PPE, said Associate Superintendent of Operations Essie McGuire. She said the school system has a robust supply, including over 500,000 face masks on-hand currently.
High school students in some career and technical education programs would also be included in the January phase-in, Moran said.
Spokesperson Turner said if health conditions continue to improve, a larger group phase-in will begin Feb. 1.
MCPS will send a survey to every parent, so they can indicate their preference for their child to return to buildings to remain in a virtual learning model. Parents can change their minds and switch to virtual learning at any point. However switching from virtual to hybrid depends on space availability in schools. The survey will close Dec. 3.