Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff:
We want to wish all of the MCPS mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for all you do.
On Wednesday, May 6, Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced that all Maryland schools would remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Although our school buildings will remain closed, online learning in MCPS will continue until June 15, our last day of school.
Maryland’s Recovery Plan for Education states, “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of education more dramatically than any other phenomenon in the history of our school system. An event of this magnitude will definitely impact how we provide education to students.” It is our sincerest hope that students and staff will be able to return to our school buildings in some form in the coming months. However, we know that it will be strikingly different than what we’ve always known school to be. The loss of face-to-face interactions, collaboration and celebrations is difficult for our students, staff and families. Schools are 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.
While much has changed, a few things remain the same. Our amazing students and staff continue to model the importance of kindness and compassion, and are using creativity and passion to engage and connect on a deeper level. Students and staff are being recognized locally and nationally for their efforts—teachers like Michael Doggett, who just won a $30,000 prize from Box Tops for Education and Chance the Rapper. Thank you, Mr. Doggett, and all MCPS teachers and staff for all that you are doing to support our students.
Below are several important updates, including information on Phase III of online learning in MCPS, commencement celebrations and the district’s recovery plan. We appreciate that staff, students and families are eager to get back into schools to retrieve and return materials. Our key priority is maintaining safety practices during this time, particularly as public health restrictions remain in place. We are working on a plan to accomplish all end-of-the-year wrap up activities and details will be shared with each school community in the coming weeks.
Please continue to stay safe and take care of yourselves. We appreciate your ongoing support and patience as we continue to adapt to these evolving circumstances.
Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Phase III of Online Learning in MCPS
We will transition to Phase III of online learning on May 18. Our main focus in this next phase will be to continue providing new instruction to all students and supporting their social-emotional needs as the school year comes to an end. We will also work with all stakeholders (employee associations, staff, parents and community members) to develop our recovery and re-entry plan. More information on Phase III will be shared in the coming days.
We will continue to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for students four days a week at more than 50 sites. We will also continue to partner with Manna Food Center and Women Who Care Ministries to provide weekend meal bags to families. More information is available here
. Additionally, the Montgomery County Food Council created an interactive map of food assistance providers
and benefits application assistance sites in Montgomery County. It is searchable by location, food assistance type, accessibility and many other special features. This resource provides families a quick view of local resources in their area.
Grading and Reporting
As a reminder, on Tuesday, May 12, the Board of Education will discuss and take action on a grading and reporting plan for secondary students. The plan will address the calculation of the overall semester grade, Grade Point Average (GPA), and how final grades will be reported on transcripts. The meeting, which will begin at 11:30 a.m., will be broadcast live on the MCPS website and on MCPS-TV. Please tune in for this important discussion. We also will provide an update to the community once the Board takes final action.
MCPS has developed a framework to determine whether a student can earn a “Pass” for the marking period. As a reminder, this framework emphasizes the importance of overall student engagement, and includes multiple criteria, such as completion of assignments, demonstration of learning, engagement with teachers in multiple ways, and the teachers’ professional judgement. In this framework, teachers will continue to use their gradebook as a tool to track assignments and provide feedback to students. But it is important to remember that grades listed in the parent portal may look different than what parents/students are accustomed to. If you have questions about grades in the portal, please contact your child’s teacher.
Interim Reports for Secondary Students
Given the transition to the Pass/Incomplete framework for the 4th Marking Period, MCPS will be sending interim reports to students who are in danger of not passing a course for this marking period based on the established criteria
. Senior interims will be mailed the week of May 11 and interims for students in Grades 6-11 will be mailed the week of May 18
Science experiences for students and families will be available in myMCPS classroom starting the week of May 4, 2020. Additional science experiences will be made available for families the week of May 11, 2020. The science experiences are designed to be extensions of learning for students and families.
The Maryland State Department of Education released its recovery plan on May 6. You can view the report here. The state’s report is meant to provide guidance for local school districts in developing and evaluating options for returning to school in the context of evolving public health requirements. MCPS is working on a district specific recovery plan that will design a range of flexible approaches to address the educational and operational needs of the school system. We will provide more information in the coming weeks.
Celebrating the Class of 2020 and Plans for Commencement
MCPS is proud of the Class of 2020 and all they have accomplished this year. Recently, we surveyed seniors and their families about their preferences for graduation ceremonies. Based on the feedback we received from more than 8,000 students and parents, we have decided to take a hybrid approach to graduation. In early June, we will host a universal virtual graduation for the entire Class of 2020 and their families. We will also hold in-person celebration ceremonies at a later date once public health restrictions on large gatherings have been lifted. We will share details on the virtual commencement celebration in the coming days. Additionally, from May 14 to May 22, we will celebrate our seniors on social media. Students are encouraged to share short videos or photos on Twitter telling us their post-secondary plans—whether they are heading off to college, the military, taking up a trade or apprenticeship, or going straight into the workforce. Staff, parents, guardians and family members are encouraged to share messages and best wishes for seniors through videos or photos. Be sure to use the hashtag #MCPSClassof2020. If you prefer to email a video or photo, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Navigating the College Admissions Process During COVID-19
MCPS will present an informational talk show about navigating the college admissions process during COVID-19 on Friday, May 15. The program, which will be posted on the MCPS website, is geared toward high school juniors and their families. Guests will include high school counselors and college representatives. Topics will include grading and reporting; the SAT and ACT; Advanced Placement tests; other college admission and application topics. While the show will be pre-recorded, high school juniors and their parents/guardians are encouraged to submit questions they would like the show’s participants to address. Questions may be submitted here. If you have questions in Spanish, please submit them here.
The show will be rebroadcast on Mondays and Fridays at 8 p.m. on Comcast channel 34, Verizon channel 36 and RCN channel 89. Guest panelists will include: Wanda Canales, director of admissions and recruitment at Washington Adventist University; Calvin Wise, director of recruitment at Johns Hopkins University; James Massey, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Maryland, College Park; Alphonso Garett, director of admissions and recruitment at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore; and representatives from MCPS.
The Spanish show will be rebroadcast on Mondays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast channel 33, Verizon channel 35 and RCN channel 88. Guest panelists will be: Maria Garcia, ESOL counselor with MCPS; Wanda Canales, director of admissions and recruitment at Washington Adventist University; and Alexandra Gonzales, admissions representative at Montgomery College.