Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff:
We hope that you are well and are staying safe. Like many of us, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the constant news coverage of COVID-19 and its impact on our economy, our way of life, and our educational systems that were designed for face-to-face instruction and interaction. As we all seek to find the good, reframe our thinking and adapt to a new normal, I am reminded of this quote by Fred Rogers, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” We have many helpers in our MCPS community. I think about the hundreds of staff working at meal sites who have provided MCPS students with more than two million meals since our school buildings closed. I think about our special educators and the innovative efforts they are making to meet the needs of students. I also think about school communities that are coming together to deliver care kits to families in need. So many of you have used this time to focus on serving and supporting others, and demonstrating the collaboration that sets our school district apart. When I think about all of our helpers, I am reminded that we have the ability and spirit of community needed to surmount the challenges that lie ahead.
Below are several important updates, including information on the virtual commencement celebration for the Class of 2020; next steps on grading and reporting; summer school and the 2020 Student Member of the Board election.
As a reminder, Monday, May 25 is Memorial Day, a time to remember those who lost their lives serving our country. MCPS will be closed to recognize this holiday and there will be no remote instruction or assignments for students.
Have a peaceful holiday weekend.
Jack R. Smith
Superintendent of Schools
Virtual Commencement Celebration for the Class of 2020
MCPS will honor the Class of 2020 with a systemwide live Universal Graduation Celebration on Sunday, June 7, featuring Jose Andres, world-renowned chef and founder of World Central Kitchen as the commencement speaker.
The event will pay tribute to our more than 10,500 high school graduates. Produced in collaboration with NBC4, it will air at 6 p.m. on Cozi TV (broadcast over-the-air channel 4.2, Verizon Fios channel 460 and Xfinity channel 208). The ceremony will be emceed by NBC4 anchor Leon Harris. Replays of the ceremony will be available on the MCPS website and the MCPS YouTube channel after the event.
Additionally, individual school virtual graduations will be held June 8-12. A schedule of each school’s virtual graduation will be posted on the MCPS website.
The live Universal Graduation Celebration will also feature remarks from Superintendent of Schools Jack Smith and Board of Education President Shebra Evans.
Schools will distribute caps and gowns May 26 through June 5. Your child’s school will provide details on their specific distribution plans. Please note that MCPS intends to provide modified in-person celebrations (once public health restrictions are lifted) for each school.
Grading and Reporting
On May 12, the Montgomery County Board of Education approved a revised grading policy for elementary and secondary students. As part of this change, high school students will be able to earn a letter grade, or elect to have a “Pass” as the final second semester grade, on a course-by-course basis. Below is a summary of important components of the grading policy for secondary students that are now in effect and next steps:
- Resolving Incompletes from the 3rd Marking Period: Students have until May 29, 2020 to resolve remaining Incompletes from the 3rd Marking Period (MP3) in order to raise their MP3 grade in a course. After May 29, MCPS will automatically convert all remaining Incompletes to the grade the student had as of March 13, 2020.
- Passing the 4th Marking Period: For the 4th Marking Period, all middle and high school students will be issued a marking period grade of Pass or Incomplete, based on established criteria.
- Semester Grade Calculation: Based on the Board’s decision for middle and high school grading, the tables below will be used for semester and final grade calculation in middle and high school.
- Making the Choice: In all high school credit courses, students will be able to earn a letter grade, or elect to have a “Pass” as the final semester grade. We are currently developing systems to ensure that students are able to take advantage of a grading option that is to their benefit. In general, students/families can expect:
- An online portal for students/families to make their initial grading option choice for each course will be available on June 4 and will close on June 12.
- Graduating seniors will also make their grading choices during the June 4-12 window.
- More information will be sent in the next two weeks to prepare for this process and to ensure that students/families have the information they need to make informed decisions.
- Students who want to revisit their choice selections and make changes to their initial choices will be able to do so by working with their counselor within the current grade change processes.
- Students who receive a final grade of Incomplete for the semester will be provided opportunities to earn a passing grade during a summer program and/or learning recovery period. The grading choice will not be applied until the Incomplete is resolved.
Letter grades will not be assigned for the 4th Marking Period. The emphasis is on engaging students in learning experiences and connecting with as many students as possible. For elementary students, the final letter grade will be based on the average of the first, second and third marking periods.
MCPS will offer summer learning and enrichment opportunities to elementary and secondary students through regional, school-based and other districtwide programs. These programs will provide instruction in core subject areas, as well as enrichment opportunities and social-emotional support. As in past years, MCPS will also offer online courses for high school credit.
We do not know if we will be able to provide face-to-face experiences for students yet. Based on state and county restrictions around social distancing, group size, and health precautions and safety, we will make a decision about the format—distance, face-to-face or a combination of the two—in the next few weeks so families can plan accordingly.
Programs will begin in July. Details on available programs, registration dates and program-specific start dates will be shared with families in the coming weeks and posted on the MCPS website. More information for employees about how to apply for summer employment opportunities will be sent next week.
Retrieval of Items from Schools
The end-of-year close out process is underway. To ensure the health and safety of our staff, students and families, this process will be sequenced over the coming weeks and may extend beyond June 15 (the last day of school). Parents will receive notification from their school(s) with details on dates for when families can retrieve personal items that were left in the school building. We want to remind you that with safety a top priority, you will not be allowed to enter the building. Staff wearing protective equipment will prepare items for pickup and items will be placed curbside for contactless pick-up. We appreciate your patience as we continue to prioritize safety in this process.
MCPS Waymaking Videos Support MCPS’ Efforts to Promote Mental Health Awareness Month in May
The MCPS “Waymaking” video series has multiple episodes for staff and students as families adapt to the changes in our daily lives. The show is hosted by Dr. Christina Conolly, director of psychological services for MCPS. The shows highlight a variety of topics, including:
- Stress Management and Anxiety during Social Distancing
- Managing Stress and Anxiety for Students
- Suicide Awareness
- Social-Emotional Learning
- Montgomery County Crisis Center
- Every Mind Crisis Prevention and Intervention Services
- Child Abuse
- Domestic Violence
New topics are added to the YouTube playlist each week. All of the “Waymaking” episodes can be foundhere.
Nick Asante Elected Student Member of the Board of Education
Nicholas Asante, a junior at Richard Montgomery High School, has been elected as the Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB) for the 2020-2021 school year. Mr. Asante’s term begins on July 1, 2020.
The SMOB is a voting member of the Montgomery County Board of Education. The SMOB can vote on matters related to collective bargaining, capital and operating budgets, and school closings, reopenings and boundaries. The SMOB cannot vote on negative personnel actions. The SMOB is not paid, but does receive a $5,000 college scholarship, Student Service Learning hours, and one honors-level social studies credit.
Mr. Asante will replace Mr. Nate Tinbite, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School, who will graduate in June. For more information, visit the Student Member of the Board website.
#ThisIsWhy Youth PSA Campaign Contest Open to Students
Montgomery County Recreation and the Gandhi Brigade have announced a #ThisIsWhy Youth PSA Campaign Contest. With the effects of social distancing taking a toll on youth throughout the county, this contest allows for student voices on the topic. Despite the inconveniences and hardships of quarantine, and because they understand the importance and the impact that they are making … #ThisIsWhy students are choosing to #stayhome #staysafe.
The #ThisIsWhy PSA Video Campaign Contest has been added to this year’s Gandhi Brigades Youth Media Festival and will run through June 5. Cash gift cards will be awarded to the first and second place winners for each category (elementary school, middle school, high school and young adult). There will also be a MoCoRec Pick of the Week that highlights one submitted video and the artist will receive a $20 cash gift card.
Q&A with Deputy Superintendent McKnight and SMOB Nate Tinbite
Nate Tinbite, the Student Member of the Board of Education, held a live Question and Answer session with Deputy Superintendent Monfia McKnight on May 20. During the session, Dr. McKnight provided an update on ongoing district efforts and answered questions from secondary students. If you missed the session, you can watch it here.