Nonpublic Schools Deciding on Opening Options

As the start of the new school year approaches, some nonpublic schools are opting to begin virtually with the goal of opening up their classrooms as soon as possible. Other private and parochial schools in the county are opening their doors on the first day while still others are choosing a hybrid approach, allowing parents to decide what is best for their children.

Some parents had expected their children’s schools to open on the first day and took to Facebook to express their disappointment when County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles earlier this month ordered nonpublic schools to remain virtual until at least Oct. 1. He has since rescinded that order.

Gayles, who is a state employee, continues to believe that there are too many COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County for the schools to open up their classrooms. On Aug. 13, there were 111 new cases here. However, without specific guidance and metrics from the state, the county has stepped away from telling the schools what to do.

County Executive Marc Elrich called it “good news” that some of the bigger private schools are not opening right away. “There is far too much infection in the community,” he noted, adding he believes “it’s important the state provides guidance and metrics” to determine when a school may open up and what needs to be done to keep the students and staff safe.

He questioned why the county would impose standards on public schools, businesses and restaurants and not private schools.

According to Gayles, people 19 years and younger now are testing positive for COVID-19 at a higher rate than before. During the past month, the rate of people in that age group “basically it’s almost doubled in the last month.”

While the county isn’t required to review school opening plans, Earl Stoddard, director of the Montgomery Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, noted, “We are willing to review plans” once the state sets down guidelines.

He said that while some schools have sent information about their opening plans, not all have. “We don’t know if there are schools operating today in Montgomery County. We don’t know.”

Some of the 140 schools have posted their plans on their websites. As some schools are still updating their plans, it is best to check with a school for its most recent plans.

  • The Academy of the Holy Cross, Kensington, will begin virtually on Sept. 1.
  • St. Andrew Apostle School, Silver Spring, is opening its campus. Families have the choice of learning at home or in school or a hybrid mixture of the two.
  • The Avalon School, Wheaton, is opening for in-person classes five days a week on Sept. 3.
  • Brookewood School, Kensington, is opening for in person classes five days a week beginning Sept.3.
  • Covenent Life School, Gaithersburg, is opening its doors to provide in-person instruction. It is offering the option for students to participate from home and watching the school’s live feed.
  • Feynman School, Potomac, will be in session starting Sept. 8, five days a week on campus with a virtual option.
  • Georgetown Prep, Rockville, is planning to open campus to students while continuing to offer a modified version of the daily schedule that allows synchronous daily classes for each course. Students not able to return to the campus may join classes through Zoom.
  • St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, Potomac, is beginning the school year with a distance learning model for all grades through at least October 9.
  • Bullis School, Potomac, is offering the choice of learning remotely at home or in-person at school.
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, Olney, will begin the school year with only distance learning.
  • St. John’s College High School, Washington, D.C., is beginning the year with full distance learning instructional model for the month of September.
  • Melvin Berman Hebrew Academy, Rockville, will begin virtually on Aug. 31.
  • Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, will begin the school year virtually through livestream with opportunities for programming in small groups outdoors and on campus.
  • Landon School, Bethesda, is opening with a version of distance learning on Aug. 26. It will combine distance learning with gradually phased in, on-campus, smaller group activities including athletic training.
  • Woods Academy, Bethesda, will open at all grade levels in a virtual format.
  • St. Bartholomew Catholic School, Bethesda, is opening its campus for a full re-opening this month.

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