Montgomery County Public Schools released a 12-minute video Saturday and a letter to the school community to clear up rumors swirling throughout the community concerning the opening of schools, which is set for Aug. 31.
Schools will be held virtually until county and state officials deem it safe to return to the classroom, explained MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith.
“We actually don’t know when those phases will begin,” he said, adding that MCPS staff is preparing for in-classroom teaching when it is permitted.
For teachers and students who say they need to stay home and cannot return to the classroom, when that is permitted, Smith said there will be a process to handle each case.
The district is purchasing masks and hand sanitizers, explained Deputy Superintendent Monifa McKnight. Rather than discipline students, especially young ones, who don’t want to wear a mask, MCPS will be teaching children the importance of wearing them, she said.
The building service workers will be keeping classrooms sanitized, explained Essie McGuire, associate superintendent of operations. However, she added, “it’s going to be an effort that includes all of us,” and students and teachers may be responsible for their own personal spaces.
Classrooms will be set up so that students are at least six feet apart, McGuire said. That probably will result in 12 to 15 students per classroom.
As for athletics, all in-person summer conditioning and activities are cancelled through Aug. 11.
Many decisions are still being made, Smith said. “This is a very, very tough situation. No one would have chosen this.” He promised to “continue to work to together on behalf of everyone” and to listen “to lots and lots of voices.”