MCPS Will Return to In-School Learning with Phased-In Approach March 1

Montgomery County Public School’s Board of Education members unanimously agreed Tuesday to return students to the classroom beginning with small groups of the most vulnerable students on March 1 and continuing through April 26 at the latest for seventh and 10th graders.

About 500 students in 68 schools are expected to return March 1.

The BOE members agreed to open its buildings for grades kindergarten through third grade and career and technical education students as of March 15. Then, no later than April 6, students in grades four, five, six and twelve as well as pre-kindergarten will return to in-school instruction.

No later than April 19, students in eighth, ninth and eleventh grades are expected to return. Finally, no later than April 26, the two remaining grades will be able to return.

MCPS will continue utilizing Wednesdays as an all-virtual day, and will clean the buildings then. Many of the classes will continue on an A-B schedule, rotating when students are in school and when they are learning virtually. This is necessary as each classroom can house no more than 10 or 11 students to follow social distancing restrictions, said Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith.

Families may choose to allow their students to continue learning virtually. In fact, with requirements for students to stay six feet apart, Montgomery County Public Schools cannot accommodate all students inside buildings, Smith said, noting the MCPS “will continue to teach all students.”

The administration stressed that students would not return to the classroom only to remain on their Chromebooks or be taught by a classroom monitor. However, at various times during the school day both of these scenarios may occur. For instance, if a teacher has divided the class to accommodate social distancing, a classroom monitor may be assigned so the teacher can flow between classes.

Depending on the number of teachers who return, classes will be conducted virtually, face to face, simultaneously with students both in class and virtual or with support staff. Substitutes will be used.

“There will be direct teaching going on” for all students, explained Janet Wilson, MCPS chief of teaching, learning and schools.

MCPS has reviewed many other school district plans throughout the country and will continue to fine-tune the process. “This is all about transitions,” Smith said.

MCPS’ spring break and last day of school on June 16 will remain. March 8 will be an additional day off from school, as part of a three-day program for staff preparation.

When asked what MCPS will do about students who refuse to wear masks or social distance, Smith replied, “Its the way we would always address non-compliance.” First the student will be spoken with and if this doesn’t end the problem, then disciplinary actions will be taken, he explained.

The BOE also announced that beginning with its next business meeting on Feb. 23, it too will meet in person.


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