Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser Date: April 19, 2020

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Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff and Community Members,

On Friday, April 17, Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced that Maryland public schools would remain closed until May 15, 2020. This extended closure helps ensure the safety and well-being of students, staff and members of the community.

Even though our buildings will be closed for at least another month, we are prepared to support students through our online learning model and meal service program.

As I shared earlier, we know that the state’s decision to extend school closure is hard for our families. School is at the heart of our county and community. Please know that in addition to student learning, we will continue to support the physical, social-emotional and psychological needs of our students.

Below are important updates on several important areas, including what to expect for the next phase of online learning, the school calendar, grading, and state requirements for seniors. We encourage you to visit our online learning webpage frequently to view important updates and resources. 

Please continue to stay safe and take care of one another. 


Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools

School Calendar

On Tuesday, April 14, the Maryland State Board of Education voted to waive the requirement that schools hold 180 days of instruction. MCPS will be updating the school calendar in the coming weeks based on the State Board’s decision to waive five of the 10 emergency closure days from March 16 to March 27. This means we will only need to make up five days to meet the new minimum number of instructional days (175 days). MCPS has already made up three of these days by reducing spring break and has one additional unused emergency closure day that was already built into the calendar. We are planning on using April 28 as an instructional day given that primary Election Day has been moved to June and will now be in a vote-by-mail format. The last day of school will be June 15, 2020.

What to Expect: Next Phase of Online Learning in MCPS

On Monday, April 20, we will begin the next phase of our online learning plan. We will continue to focus on providing instruction and meeting learning objectives; leveraging the tools and resources that students have access to and providing the academic and social-emotional support students need. Our online learning model includes a blend of approaches to learning activities; independent, self-paced work; virtual office hours to check for understanding; and submission of assignments.

At the elementary level, students will:

  • Participate in math lessons three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
  • Participate in literacy lessons two days a weeks (Tuesday and Thursday), which includes daily independent reading time for Grades PreK-1 (20 min) and Grades 2-5 (30-40 min)  
  • Participate in art, music and physical education (P.E.) lessons at a time that works best for each family (pre-recorded lessons will be available to families every other Monday)

Parents can expect that their elementary students will spend anywhere from 11-13.5 hours per week engaging in live classroom meetings, completing assignments and viewing materials. Printed packets will also be available for elementary families to pick up every Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at our meal distribution sites.  






Elementary Content






*Suggested times only (pre-recorded lessons are available to families for use on a schedule that works best for them)
*art/music/P.E. lessons are released every other week 

Middle and high school school students will:

  • Receive new content and assignments in all of their core courses and electives each week
  • Have opportunities to connect with and receive support from teachers during office hours, according to the local school schedule
  • Receive feedback from teachers on assignments 






Secondary Content

New content sent in the morning by teachers

All class periods, 1-8, pre-recorded for on-demand access for students 


  • Student independent work, teacher planning and parent communication
  • Special education and related services, counselor and support services, school-specific schedule


  • Check-ins with teachers, according to the school-specific schedule of teacher office hours

In general, secondary students can expect to receive one to two meaningful assignments each week in each course and can expect to be working for up to four hours each day. Please note that the total time students are engaged in learning activities will be determined by course level and the full range of assignments that students receive in all of their subjects. 

Students can submit their assignments via Google Classroom, myMCPS classroom or email. Although teachers will introduce new content and assignments for students to complete, it is important to remember that the work students complete and the feedback teachers provide during this time is not meant to replace the day-to-day instruction that students would have received at school. 

Our goal is to maintain key aspects of the classroom experience: engaging with content, collaborating with peers, receiving support from staff, and moving forward in the learning process through assignments and feedback. The learning experiences are meant to maintain a continuity of learning; facilitate and track progress; and encourage students to challenge themselves and grow in their knowledge. The scheduled office hours are an important time to connect with teachers, engage in additional learning, and receive support as needed. 

Grading and Reporting Framework

Grades for the third marking period will be reported using the traditional grading system. Report cards will be mailed home the week of April 27. Over the past several weeks, MCPS has explored grading and reporting options for the 4th Marking Period. This work has included reviewing the approaches of other public school districts; contacting colleges and universities; and soliciting feedback from various stakeholders. This is a complex decision that requires thoughtful planning and collaboration.  We have determined that a traditional grading system based on percentages and letter grades will not serve the best interests of all students during this period of online learning. We want to ensure that our grading system has a positive impact and can only help our students’ academic standing.

As is the case with any grading policy, there is no perfect grading system, which is amplified even more now during a very stressful time for families. However, we believe the following strategies will let us know if students are learning, without penalizing them for the impact the pandemic may be having on their families. 

Secondary Students
In middle and high schools, a traditional letter grade system will not be used for the 4th Marking Period. MCPS is developing a grading and reporting framework for secondary schools that is commonly known as “Pass/Incomplete” or “Credit/No Credit” for the remainder of the year. We believe that this grading approach will ensure fairness and equity for all students, while also engaging students in the curriculum, providing meaningful feedback, and tracking their progress. We are currently working with stakeholders (teachers, parents, students and union leaders) to ensure a smooth transition to this system and ensure that teachers and students understand the criteria for success. We understand that there will be many questions about implications of this grading approach, and those questions will be answered. But we believe that traditional grading practices will not best serve all students and a more universal approach is needed. More information about implementation of this system, including how the final semester grade will be reported on transcripts, will be provided in the coming weeks. 

Elementary Students
Letter grades will not be assigned for the 4th Marking Period. The emphasis will be on engaging students in learning experiences and connecting with and engaging as many students as possible. To ensure students are progressing and meeting learning objectives, we will:

  • Provide students with the opportunity to engage in a variety of learning experiences
  • Follow up with students and their parents/guardians in identified areas of concern 
  • Engage students in academic and social-emotional work 
  • Provide teachers with information so that students return to school, they will know  which skills to work on, and how to engage them in learning at the next grade level.

Student Attendance and Accountability

Although daily student attendance will not be taken in traditional ways, teachers and school administrators will monitor student engagement and participation. This will be tracked in a number of ways, including:

  • Assignment completion
  • Students attending live sessions or virtual “office hours
  • Email or phone calls with students/parents/guardians
  • Paper/pencil assignments that students turn in

We want to stress that student engagement and participation in remote learning is critical. If your child(ren) is having trouble engaging in online learning, please contact their counselor or a school administrator as soon as possible. You can also submit a question or concern here.

State Requirements for the Class of 2020 and Graduation

On April 14, the State Board of Education voted to waive state testing requirements for high school seniors. They also voted to waive the requirements for Student Service Learning (SSL) hours. MCPS staff are meeting to discuss potential alternative graduation celebrations to honor 2020 graduates. More information will be communicated in the coming weeks.

New Locations Added to Meal Service Program

Beginning on Monday, April 20, MCPS will add two new sites to its food service distribution.  The new sites are at John Poole Middle School in Poolesville and Meadow Hall Elementary School in Rockville, bringing the total number of sites to 50. Details on times, dates and locations can be found on the Coronavirus webpage

Alert MCPS

MCPS has expanded its use of the Alert MCPS system to send system wide messages of importance to the community, in addition to information about emergency closings and delays. These notices come in the form of emails and text messages. We encourage all MCPS families to sign up for this system to ensure that you stay up-to-date on the latest information, resources and announcements. 

Face Coverings

As a reminder, a new Montgomery County law requires the use of a face covering during many in-person interactions. We strongly encourage individuals picking up meals and Chromebooks wear a cloth or other material that covers their nose and mouth, such as a cloth face covering, face mask, dust mask, homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief. The CDC’s instructions on how to make face coverings can be found here.  

Zoom Reminder

MCPS is committed to providing a safe learning environment in person and online. To strengthen student privacy and limit external disruptions to the virtual classroom, MCPS has implemented several measures, including:

  • A restricted system that only allows access for students and teachers with MCPS accounts
  • A waiting room feature that allows teachers to review all students who seek access to their class
  • Settings that turn off student cameras and microphones by default

Read more about MCPS’ commitment to student privacy here.

George B. Thomas Learning Academy Offers Online Support

Beginning Saturday, April 25, the George B. Thomas, Sr. Learning Academy (Saturday School) will be launching an online enrichment platform, The Learning Academy Online. The goal of this new platform is to support families and students who are currently enrolled in the program with mastery of the MCPS curriculum through distance learning and to continue to build positive relationships with students and families. More information will be available on the Saturday School website.