Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) updated its COVID-19 playbook with a new five-point plan, Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight said during a virtual briefing in front of the county council Tuesday.
McKnight designed the plan to enhance and strengthen COVID-19 measures and position MCPS to respond nimbly to the unexpected. The plan is as follows:
- Appoint a chief health officer for MCPS
- Create a COVID-19 Operations Advisory Committee
- Create a COVID-19 dashboard
- Launch an outreach campaign to get more students to opt-in to COVID-19 testing in schools
- Provide other support to help schools with their mitigation efforts
McKnight said the chief health officer will serve as the primary liaison between MCPS, County Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the state health department. Some responsibilities include: review recommendations from federal, state and local agencies, examine emerging COVID-19 data and provide multi-layer prevention strategies. Through research, the school system saw other large, medium and small school districts that have similar positions, either created before the pandemic or in response to COVID-19, McKnight said.
“Us serving as the largest school district in the state of Maryland definitely calls for us having a full-time person to be able to navigate much of the unchartered territory that we are still experiencing during COVID-19,” McKnight said. Human Resources is starting an aggressive search process.
The MCPS COVID-19 Operations Advisory Committee will be composed of MCPS staff and representatives from employee associations, DHHS and other community organizations.
The COVID-19 dashboard will provide individual school data on positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff as well as numbers of students quarantined.
As for the outreach campaign, McKnight called it “Say Yes to the Test.” McKnight said the goal is to get 100% of parents/guardians to give consent for screening and rapid testing in schools.
Effective this week, MCPS updated its quarantine guidelines. Students displaying COVID-19 symptoms in school will be assessed by a health professional and given an on-site rapid antigen test with parental/guardian consent.
If negative, close contacts of the symptomatic person can stay in school and the symptomatic student will be advised to take a follow-up PCR test. If the rapid test is positive, unvaccinated close contacts will be directed to quarantine for 10 days. If there is no rapid test, unvaccinated close contacts do not have to quarantine if the symptomatic student had no known exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
See more information about the five-point plan here.