Dear MCPS Community,
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) continues to work closely with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Office of Emergency Management to monitor COVID-19 (coronavirus) and provide timely information and updates. We know that many parents and members of the community continue to seek information about COVID-19, and its impact on our community and school operations. We have created a website that has the most up-to-date information for our community.
As we shared in a letter on March 5, 2020, the first three cases of COVID-19 were identified in the state of Maryland and the patients reside in Montgomery County. Please read the county press release for more information. Two additional Maryland cases were identified on March 8. Of the two new cases, one of the patients resides in Montgomery County. County health officials continue to share with the district that they believe there is a low health risk for our schools and have determined that schools should remain open as normal at this time and instruction should continue as usual. If the situation changes in the county, DHHS will make the decision about which, if any, schools need to close. Again, we want to stress that under Maryland law, school closures as a result of a public health crisis are determined by the Department of Health and Human Services.
MCPS continues to work with staff and other key partners on plans for educational materials and resources for all students only in the event that schools are closed. Our goal is to ensure student learning using methods that are readily available and accessible to all students. At this time, in alignment with DHHS guidance, all healthy students and staff should continue to attend school as normal.
Bullying and Harassment
We have heard from some community members that there is targeted teasing, harassing and bullying of certain groups of students about the coronavirus. This behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. If you experience or witness bullying or harassment, please tell a school staff member or complete the bullying and harassment form.
Sources of Information
We are aware of a number of fake posts circulating on social media suggesting that schools will be closed due to the coronavirus and that students at different schools in the district have contracted the virus. These posts are false. Any information about school closures or updates relating to the coronavirus will come directly from county health officials and MCPS. All updates and critical information will be shared with all MCPS families through a number of communication tools, including BlackBoard ConnectEd, ConnectEd phone calls, the MCPS website and coronavirus webpage and official MCPS social media pages (Twitter and Facebook). We encourage you to visit the MCPS coronavirus webpage frequently.
We are deeply disappointed that anyone would seek to intentionally mislead our community on this serious topic. Any student found responsible for creating false posts will face serious consequences, in accordance with the MCPS Student Code of Conduct.
Best Practices for Your Health
The CDC and local health officials continue to share the following best practices as important steps to prevent the spread of this virus:
- Avoid interaction with people who are sick/ill.
- If you are sick, please stay at home.
- Do not travel if you are sick/ill.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
Individuals who believe they are at risk or have been exposed to the coronavirus are encouraged to contact their personal healthcare provider. Unless you recently traveled to a country on the CDC list, there is no need for you to self-quarantine. You may also call the Montgomery County Department of Disease Control and Epidemiology at 240-777-1755 or the Maryland Department of Health Infectious Disease Bureau at 410-767-6700. If you are not able to be seen by your primary care doctor, you are encouraged to contact an urgent care facility or your local emergency room. Visit https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/HHS/RightNav/Coronavirus.html for additional guidance.
We will continue to provide you with regular updates as this situation continues to evolve.
Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of School
Raymond L. Crowel, Psy.D.
Director, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services