safety Health and Safety Procedures

As schools reopen, the safety of students and staff remains the top priority of MCPS. MCPS continues to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In accordance with CDC guidance, MCPS will implement a multi-layer health and safety protocol that includes multiple strategies to protect school community members from COVID-19, including: use of masks/face coverings, vaccine promotion, enhanced sanitation, frequent hand-washing, improved ventilation, and quarantine and contact tracing in the event that a student or staff member tests positive. Specifically, MCPS will implement the following health and safety practices in schools, offices and on school buses.

Face Coverings
Face Coverings
 

UPDATED: March 9, 2022-On Tuesday March 8, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted to make masks (face coverings) optional in all MCPS schools and facilities.  Students and staff are encouraged to be respectful of an individuals preference to wear on not wear a mask.

Cleaning
Cleaning
 

MCPS building service staff will continue to regularly clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in MCPS facilities. Special attention is given to door handles, light switches, sink handles, and other surfaces that are touched frequently. Restrooms in common areas are cleaned and disinfected more frequently throughout the day.

Hand Sanitizer and Hand Washing
Hand Sanitizer and Hand Washing
 

Regular hand-washing will be encouraged whenever students are in school buildings. Hand sanitizer will be provided to students and staff, with sanitizing stations placed throughout the building.

 
Contact Tracing
Contact Tracing
 

MCPS follows the recommendations and guidance of DHHS and School Health Services regarding the need to isolate and quarantine students due to a positive COVID test or exposure.

Following CDC guidelines, MCPS staff work with classroom and school staff to gather information, including seating charts, classroom activities, lunch and recess contacts, and identifies close contacts who need to quarantine.

A letter is sent to all families of students who are required to quarantine and provides information on monitoring for symptoms, when to seek medical care, who to contact if they test positive or develop symptoms during quarantine, the length of quarantine and return date, free testing and vaccination sites in the county, and information regarding further contact by the Department of Health.

See the letter templates:

MCPS is in the process of hiring 10 additional contact tracers to assist and support schools with identifying close contacts.

 
Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality
Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality
 

MCPS has taken these steps to improve ventilation and ensure the health and safety of students and staff:

  1. Assessed all existing systems and equipment
  2. Scheduled the replacement of all HVAC filters, upgrading them to the highest Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) efficiency possible for improved air filtration
  3. Increased fresh air ventilation in buildings
  4. Purchased portable air cleaners for installation in identified classrooms, specific offices, health rooms and areas that will be used as isolation rooms for those experiencing symptoms while at school
  5. Modified HVAC system operations to include an extended run time that will allow the air in buildings to be "flushed" before and after the facility is occupied
 
Vaccination
Vaccination
 

MCPS urges all eligible students and staff members to receive the vaccination to protect against COVID-19. In addition, MCPS will require that employees submit proof of vaccination or participate in weekly COVID-19 testing. More details will be shared with employees prior to the start of the school year.

 
Physical Distancing
Physical Distancing
 

MCPS will return to pre-pandemic class sizes and spacing. While the CDC encourages school districts to implement physical distancing to the extent possible, it cautions against implementing distancing requirements that would lead to the exclusion of students from in-person learning. Schools will also be encouraged to use outdoor spaces for unmasked educational and social experiences.

Cleaning
Ongoing Support
 

School administrators will be provided ongoing support to ensure effective systemwide implementation of health and safety practices.

Triage/Isolation Rooms
Triage/Isolation Rooms
 

All schools will have a designated isolation and triage space for students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at school. The school health services staff member will conduct an appropriate determination of the student’s condition based on their presenting symptoms.

 
 
Quarantine
Quarantine 
 

Beginning March 1, MCPS will be moving from a 10-day isolation and quarantine period for students to a 5-day isolation and quarantine, if certain health conditions are met. This aligns with our requirements for staff, and the recommendations of the CDC, Maryland Department of Health and our local DHHS.

Isolation – Students who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 5 days.

  • If on day 5 the student has no, or improving, symptoms and has been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication, the student may return to in-person instruction on Day 6.
  • Day 1 for positive students is the day after on-set of symptoms or day after the date tested if asymptomatic.

Quarantine – Unvaccinated students who are identified as close contacts must quarantine for 5 days.

  • If on day 5 day, symptoms have not developed and the student has not tested positive for COVID, the student may return to in-person instruction on day 6.
  • Day 1 for students identified as close contacts is the day after the last exposure.
  • The new guidance regarding quarantine will replace the current guidance of taking a test on day 5 to return on day 8. If a student in quarantine take a test on day 5 and it is negative, they may return to school on day 6.
  • This new guidance will apply to exposures in and out of school, including household exposure.

Isolation and Quarantine

  • We will strongly recommend any student who is in isolation or quarantine take a rapid test before returning to school. If families do not have rapid tests available from prior distributions, we will make tests available for pick-up or mail tests to families who are unable to pick up a test at school. Testing will be a recommendation only and will not be required to return from isolation or quarantine.
  • Students who return after a 5 day isolation or quarantine period must wear a mask at all times around others, except while eating or drinking.
  • Students who are unable to consistently and correctly wear a well-fitting mask must complete a 10-day isolation or quarantine period.

New, Jan., 9, 2022
Revised Isolation Guidelines for Staff
  • Staff who test positive for COVID-19 or have suspected COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, must stay home for at least 5 full days from the date of symptom onset if symptomatic or the date of the positive test if no symptoms.
  • After Day 5, if the individual has no symptoms without the use of fever-reducing medication, the individual may return to school as long as they wear a well-fitting mask when around others for an additional 5 days, and as required by MCPS and MSDE guidelines regarding mask use in schools.  
  • If the individual is unable to wear a mask when around others, they should remain at home for at least a full 10 days.
Revised Quarantine Guidelines for Staff

These quarantine guidelines apply to staff who are close contacts of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 and are unvaccinated; adults 18 years and older who have completed the primary series of Pfizer vaccine over 5 months ago or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted OR completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted; or have not had COVID-19 in the past 90 days:

  • These staff must stay home for at least 5 full days after the last close contact. 
  • After Day 5, if the individual has had no symptoms, the individual is encouraged to get tested and may return to work as long as they wear a well-fitting mask when around others for an additional 5 days.  
  • If the individual is unable to wear a mask when around others, they should remain at home for at least 10 full days.  
  • If the individual develops symptoms at any point, they should remain at home, get tested and follow the isolation guidelines above.
  • All other staff who are close contacts of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine.