MCPS Transportation Woes Continue; More Schools Near Threshold for Virtual Learning

Thursday morning, 109 Montgomery County Public Schools buses did not operate, which is an increase of 34 that didn’t make their routes due to a lack of bus drivers on Wednesday.

There are 1,228 bus routes.

Many families tweeted Wednesday of their concern that they were not notified and that their student waited outside in the cold and snow for a bus that never appeared. In other tweets, they complained that MCPS advised them to form carpools when the goal is to isolate students as much as possible.

On the routes home, 82 buses did not make their routes Wednesday, according to MCPS.

“We understand their anxiety and would ask that they ensure they are masked and distanced as much as possible, wash hands,” MCPS Director of Communications Chris Cram wrote in an email to MyMCM.

“A reason to consider this is to ensure students can get to school, especially if they have no other means to do so and are affected by a bus route disruption and to keep the traffic to a minimum in our crowded neighborhoods near our schools,” he wrote.

He also noted that staff other than bus drivers within MCPS Department of Transportation were driving some routes.

While COVID-19 cases continue to increase, MCPS remains committed to quarantining individual schools when more than 5% of the staff and student body there test positive rather than turn the entire 209 schools over to virtual learning.

“That is not part of the current local and state health guidance and in fact MSDE currently still requires in-person learning five days a week,” said Cram, referring to the state Department of Education.

Schools in red have an incident rate that encompasses more than 5% of the staff and students. Schools in the yellow have more than 3% but fewer than 5% of affected students and staffs. Schools in the green have fewer than 3%. This is the color-coded chart for all schools.

Once a school moves into the red, MCPS and Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services meet to determine if and when it needs to switch to virtual learning.

Here is the link to see the number of positive COVID-19 cases districtwide. This is the link to see individual school rates as of Jan. 5 at 4 p.m. According to this list, 13,000 students currently are in quarantine, and there are 4,787 active cases among students and staff.

As of Wednesday, only eight schools were in the green.

MCPS gets its information when people self-report a positive case. Those who have not been tested but may have COVID-19 are not included.

Cram noted that availability of tests “remains a challenge nationally and for this reason we are providing at-home tests beginning this week through next week for students and staff. In order to best make operational decisions we rely on families and staff to report positive cases via the online form.”

There is a Facebook group called P.A.G.E.S., which stands for Parents/Ally/Guardians/Educators/Students Coalition of MoCo, that posted that parent groups are staging a Jan. 6 student sickout, noting, “MCPS has created & is fueling a public health disaster.”

Eleven schools have reverted to virtual learning due to their high rates of COVID-19. They are

  • Rock Terrace School
  • Cannon Road Elementary School
  • North Chevy Chase Elementary School
  • Hallie Wells Middle School
  • Monocacy Elementary School
  • Roberto Clemente Middle School
  • Forest Knolls Elementary School
  • Waters Landing Elementary School
  • Rosemont Elementary School
  • Sherwood Elementary School
  • Seneca Valley High School

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