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

All MCPS students, staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings in school buildings and offices this fall, regardless of vaccination status. Approved types of masks/face coverings include: disposable masks, cloth mask coverings, gaiters, clear masks and cloth masks with clear plastic pane. Face coverings must fit properly with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Face coverings/masks will be provided for any student, staff or visitor who does not have one while in an MCPS building.

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.

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.

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.

Cleaning
Access to COVID-19 Testing
 
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.

Cleaning
Ongoing Support

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

 
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.

Quarantine
Quarantine

Symptomatic student with a negative rapid test: no quarantine of close contacts, but exceptions based on follow-up PCR test

If a student with COVID-19 symptoms tests negative on the rapid test, it is recommended that the student follow up with a PCR test. 

  • While awaiting the results of the PCR test, close contacts do not need to quarantine.

  • If the PCR test is negative, close contacts do not need to quarantine. 

  • If the PCR test is positive, unvaccinated close contacts will need to quarantine. 

If a parent does not consent to the rapid test for their child, or follow-up PCR test, unvaccinated close contacts of the child will not be required to quarantine unless the symptomatic child has had a known exposure to COVID-19 or if the level of exposure cannot be reliably confirmed. DHHS has indicated that based on the rapid tests to date they “expect that this circumstance will not arise often.”    

Symptomatic student with a positive rapid test: unvaccinated close contacts must quarantine for 10 days

If a student with COVID-19 symptoms tests positive on the rapid test, unvaccinated students who were in close contact with the symptomatic student will be required to quarantine for 10 days. Unvaccinated students who have been identified as close contacts to a confirmed COVID-19 case must complete the full 10-day quarantine and may not test out and return prior to completing the full 10 days. 

COVID-19 Rapid Testing and Quarantine Guidelines Process Map (Oct. 1, 2021)

Mask Up, MCPS - It's Simple. Be Smart. Do Your Part. Stay Safe.

All MCPS students, staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings in school buildings and offices this fall, regardless of vaccination status. This is one of the most basic strategies we can use to help stop the spread of COVID-19. So Mask Up, MCPS - Be Smart. Do Your Part. Stay Safe

Mask Up, MCPS Video: A message from our students

Mask Up, MCPS Video: A message from our adults