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Community Update

March 12, 2021

Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff:

During the March 11 Board of Education meeting, MCPS staff shared additional details and answered questions about the reopening plan and what in-person experiences will look like for students and staff. Here are important things you need to know about the discussion and MCPS’ recovery plan:

  1. The Board is considering options that will allow MCPS to speed up the current timeline for the return of student groups. If the March 15 return of students is successful, MCPS is proposing that groups 2.1 and 2.2 be combined and both groups start a phased-return by April 19., The Board will discuss and vote on this proposal at its March 23 meeting.

    Phase II
    Group 2.1 (by April 19)
    Group 2.2 (by April 26)
    • Grade 8
    • Grade 9
    • Grade 11
    • Grade 7
    • Grade 10
  2. MCPS is strongly encouraging families and staff not to travel outside of Maryland and neighboring states at this time. If students or employees travel, they are strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of returning and should consider self-quarantining while awaiting results. We understand that many staff and families have already made plans to travel out of state during spring break. However, to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 in schools once people return from spring break, Tuesday, April 6 will be a virtual learning day for ALL students. Wednesday, April 7 will remain a virtual day as scheduled. Students scheduled to return on April 6 (Group 1.2) will return to buildings on Thursday, April 8. 

  3. We must all do our part to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in our schools. This includes participating in school-provided COVID-19 testing to identify cases where the student or staff member may not be showing symptoms. Tests will be provided for all students and staff on a weekly basis. Each swab will be placed in a common tube for that classroom or group and sent off to a central testing laboratory. The test detects whether the virus that causes COVID-19 is present in that pooled sample. Schools will receive results within 2-3 days. A consent form will be sent to all MCPS families the week of March 15. If you do not complete the consent form, your child will be opted out of testing.


  4. The Maryland State Board of Education (MSDE) is canceling the following spring 2021 assessments:

    • English Language Arts (ELA) (Grades 3-8, 10)
    • Mathematics (Grades 3-8 and Algebra 1)
    • Alternate Assessments in ELA and Reading (Grades 3-8, 11)
    • Maryland Integrated Science Assessments (MISA) in Grades 5, 8 and high school
    • Government Assessment in high school

    The ELA and Math assessments will be given to students in the fall of 2021, on a much smaller scale. School staff will use data from the assessments to assess student progress. The ACCESS for ELLs assessment for students who are English Language Learners will continue for those students who will be attending in-person instruction. MSDE will provide additional information soon on how the cancellation of these spring assessments will impact high school graduation requirements.

  5. MCPS is planning for a more typical school year in the fall. Staff are preparing to provide a full, in-person five-day week schedule for students, with a virtual option for families who prefer to keep their children learning from home. However, given that current health guidance still calls for six feet of distancing between students, there are a number of operational and logistical challenges that would impact MCPS’ ability to get all students (who want to return) back in buildings at the same time. We have been doing the critical work to set the stage for a successful reopening in the fall and will share regular updates with the community.

What’s Ahead

We are ready to welcome back nearly 20,000 kindergarten-Grade 3 students to our school buildings on Monday, March 15. Many students are excited to return to school buildings; however, just like at the start of a new school year, some students may also feel nervous. Here are tips to help ease any anxiety students may feel.


Additionally, a reminder for drivers to help keep our students safe as more begin to return to buildings. Be on the lookout for walkers and don't pass a stopped school bus. While in-person learning will look and feel different, our teachers, administrators and support staff are giving their all to ensure students have the very best possible experience and continue to receive engaging instruction. We thank you for your continued support.

Additional Resources

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Montgomery County Public Schools