Where do I find information on COVID-19 procedures in Montgomery County Public Schools?
What guidance does MCPS follow to determine health and safety procedures for COVID-19?
MCPS follows CDC COVID-19 recommendations for K-12 schools, per joint guidance from the Maryland State Department of Education and Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and MDH’s school guide for Communicable Diseases. Community health strategies are planned in coordination with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.
What changes have been made to MCPS COVID-19 health procedures this school year?
The Back-to-School message on the Information Portal describes changes to COVID-19 school procedures for this school year. The most significant change is that students and staff members no longer have to use the online reporting tool and can inform their school or program about an absence due to COVID-19. We continue to rely on the same core health strategies to prevent infectious disease and apply COVID-19-specific measures temporarily to limit spread in high-risk situations or a suspected outbreak after a case investigation.
If the online self-reporting tool for COVID-19 has been retired, how will MCPS know how COVID-19 is affecting the school community?
Schools collect attendance data, including the reason for absences. MCPS will rely on school reports for outbreak monitoring and examine trends in illness-related absences at the system and school level. Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services continues to track county-level COVID-19 case rates and hospital metrics and conduct wastewater surveillance.
Has MCPS changed its policy about face coverings?
The policy has been the same since March 2022, when the MCPS Board of Education voted that masks would be “optional unless required in accordance with quarantine and isolation guidelines”. In August 2022, the CDC introduced temporary masking as an alternative to quarantine for people exposed to COVID-19. Since the repeal of the universal mask mandate in March 2022, MCPS has not required masking community-wide or for any situation other than isolation (for individuals with a new COVID-19 infection) or temporarily within a high-risk cohort to reduce transmission if there has been an outbreak in that cohort.
What is the MCPS policy for face coverings?
MCPS procedures are described on the COVID-19 Information Portal
Masks are optional, with rare exceptions. The exceptions are:
Individuals who have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19 who are returning to work and school after day 5 through day 10. Day “0” is the first day of symptoms, or the date of the positive test, if there are no symptoms. Staff or students can end the masking period early after two negative COVID-19 tests.
In outbreak situations, for staff or students have been exposed exposed to multiple cases in their classroom to limit further spread. Masking is one of multiple temporary prevention measures that may limit the spread in a classroom where staff or students have this increased risk for exposure and transmission. “Outbreaks” are defined by the Maryland Department of Health and are considered if three or more positive COVID-19 cases occur in a group over a specific period of time. A case investigation is conducted to determine if the cases are “epidemiologically linked”. Not all situations with three or more cases are considered outbreaks. Outbreak measures are only introduced if the cases suggest ongoing classroom transmission and pose an exposure risk to other individuals sharing the same confined indoor space. Only all-day classrooms or activities where staff and students spend long hours together are considered for elevated precautions.
The Department of Health and Human Services determines masking rules for health rooms and school-based health clinics. In health rooms or school-based health clinics, students with active respiratory symptoms may be requested to mask by health care staff, while being cared for in the health room.
In outbreak situations, surgical or KN95 masks will be available for staff and student use.
What if my student is too young to wear a mask or cannot do so because of a health condition or developmental disability?
Students will not be required to wear a mask if unable to safely or consistently do so due to young age, a health condition, or a developmental disability.
Masking is not recommended as a prevention measure in pre-K or other early childhood programs.
Can my student be excluded from school for not wearing a mask?
Students will not be excluded from school solely for not wearing a mask as a preventive health measure.
Exclusion criteria for communicable diseases established by the Maryland Department of Health still apply for individuals with a specific symptom (e.g., fever) or an active infection (e.g., chickenpox).
Where can I learn more about using face coverings to prevent respiratory infections?