Sept. 9, 2021
Dear MCPS Community:
Here are seven things you need to know about from the Sept. 9, 2021, Board of Education meeting, including COVID-19 testing in schools, mandatory staff vaccination, and new student vaccination requirements for winter and spring sports.
- Rapid COVID-19 testing will be used in all schools to minimize student quarantines. MCPS will receive rapid tests for every school beginning next week. The use of these tests, in conjunction with the other safety measures we have in place, will help keep more students in school. MCPS will receive further guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on the implementation of this rapid testing program and will provide additional information in the coming days.
- The Board of Education passed a unanimous resolution requiring that all MCPS staff be vaccinated. The resolution requires that all staff employed by MCPS provide verification that they have received at least the first COVID-19 shot by Sept. 30, 2021, and verification of the second shot by Oct. 29, 2021, unless staff request an exemption based on a medical reason documented by a medical doctor. If a medical exemption is granted, the employee must submit to regular COVID-19 testing as required by MCPS. The Board passed this resolution as an added layer of protection, particularly for younger students who are not eligible to be vaccinated. A series of vaccination clinics hosted by MCPS, DHHS, and other healthcare providers will be conducted across the county.
- COVID-19 opt-in nasal swab testing for grades PreK through Grade 6 begins Sept. 13. MCPS is continuing to reach out to families who have not yet completed the consent form for weekly COVID-19 testing. Phase 1 of the program will begin in more than 50 schools the week of Sept. 13. A random sample of asymptomatic students will be tested each week and individual test results will be available 24-36 hours after samples are collected. More information, including Frequently Asked Questions
- Students must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in winter and spring sports. Beginning Nov. 15, 2021, all students participating in the MCPS athletics program will be required to submit proof of full COVID-19 vaccination prior to participation. Exemptions will be permitted if an authorized health care provider certifies that there is a medical reason not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This requirement applies to the winter and spring sports seasons, but students who participate in fall sports are also strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. Vaccinations will allow activities to proceed with minimal disruption and support individual and team health and safety across MCPS Athletics. More information will be shared in the coming weeks regarding the submission of documents. Registration for winter sports will open in mid-October, and proof of vaccination must be submitted as part of the registration process.
- MCPS continues to follow COVID-19 guidance from DHHS. MCPS follows COVID-19 guidance from DHHS, including guidelines for quarantining students with COVID-19 symptoms and their classmates who were in close contact with them. These guidelines were shared with the community on Sept. 3 and again on Sept. 8 with clarifying language provided by the Montgomery County Health Officer, in a letter to MCPS. In addition, DHHS has implemented a review on how administration of the guidance around quarantines is done to ensure it is universally applied, and they will continue working closely with MCPS staff to better identify close contacts that meet the CDC guidelines. For more clarifying information, visit this link
- Instruction and support are provided to students in quarantine. Schools have implemented a variety of strategies to ensure instruction is not disrupted for students in quarantine. Elementary students receive live virtual instruction and support from teachers throughout the quarantine period. Secondary students have access to all instructional materials and participate in daily virtual check-ins for support with their teachers. Well-being teams in schools provide support and perform check-ins with students while they are learning virtually.
- MCPS has developed a robust plan for hybrid learning. In the event that the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) mandates reduced capacity in school buildings, MCPS has a plan for hybrid learning. The plan incorporates staff input and an analysis of hybrid learning from last spring. It addresses specific strategies for students receiving special education services, information about technology supports, and grading and reporting policies, among other things. For more information, watch the Board of Education meeting here.