Fall 2020:
Reimagine, Reopen, Recover

MCPS To Provide Virtual-only Learning for First Semester

MCPS has determined that the safest choice for the school district is to remain in a virtual-only instructional model for the first semester and for the foreseeable future. This plan will be reassessed in November and will change only if state and local health officials determine conditions in our county allow for students and staff to return safely beginning in the second semester. Learn more

 
state of maryland
A message from Superintendent Jack Smith

Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff and Students:

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has been actively planning and preparing for the start of the 2020-2021 school year for several months. We were able to complete 75 percent of the 2019-2020 school year working and collaborating in classrooms, schools and offices. But on March 16, students stopped coming to school buildings and—to the dismay of us all—did not return before the school year ended on June 15.

Now, we are confronted with re-ordering and reimagining the school experience for the 2020-2021 school year.

As you can imagine, this work has been challenging and incredibly complex. We have discussed and evaluated several possible models for reopening schools and the truth is, there is no one option that can address all of the instructional, operational and logistical challenges that our school system is faced with. We recognize that the abrupt closure of schools in the spring and the uncertainty about the fall has caused significant disruption and stress for our families. We’ve taken into account the many perspectives families have shared with us based on their specific needs and circumstances. Most importantly, we know all of the options we consider must be examined through the lens of equity and excellence, and ensure the health and safety of our 166,000 students and 24,000 staff members.

The re-ordering and reimagining of teaching and learning cannot become an excuse for failing to maintain excellence and continuing to increase equity for MCPS students. Our students depend on us. And while it is not what we hoped for or could have ever imagined, we will begin the 2020-21 school year in an unprecedented way—including new health protocols, physical distancing and more.

I am pleased to share with you some of our initial considerations and planning for the fall. The MCPS Fall 2020: Reimagine, Reopen, Recover Guide provides an overview of a few of the recovery models we are considering at this time, in light of the information and guidance we have received from the Maryland State Department of Education and from our county health partners. I want to reiterate that this is just a draft guide and we will continue to amend, adjust and improve these recommendations as we receive feedback from you—our parents, staff and students. We know that you will have many questions and concerns as you review these draft options. We want to assure you that we will work with you every step of the way to address your concerns and questions in the coming weeks.

These considerations provide an overview of the safety protocols that will be implemented when students return to school for in-person instruction and the various instructional options that MCPS is working to make available for our students. The considerations are premised on continued positive health trends and staffing models based on current data. MCPS is committed to a path that returns our students to school buildings and lessens the impact of COVID-19. However, because we are unable to predict the path of the pandemic—should present circumstances change—MCPS will revisit these considerations so the well-being of our students and staff stays firmly at the forefront of our planning.

We take the immense responsibility of educating and creating opportunities for every single student seriously. Thank you for your continued support and collaboration as we work together to build a comprehensive plan that will meet the needs of our families, students and staff.

Sincerely,

Jack R. Smith
Superintendent of Schools

state of maryland
State Requirements for Opening Schools

School districts must:

  • Complete and post recovery plans on the district website by August 14. The State Department of Education will review all plans. 
  • Address equity in all components of the plan. 
  • Establish a recovery plan stakeholder group that is representative of its schools and community. 
  • Assess all students to identify and address gaps in learning. 
  • Follow MSDE standards and provide instruction across all key content areas. 
  • Follow IDEA, 504 and ADA plus all other special education protocols and laws. 
  • Follow MSDE, state and federal health guidelines and procedures for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.
  • Follow MSDE, state and federal health safety protocols around food service, daily cleanings and other school operations.
  • Follow protocols for the safe transportation of students to and from schools.
  • Develop a system for tracking attendance when students are engaged in remote learning.
  • Develop a communications plan to reach its stakeholders. 

Our Guiding Principles

wellbeing

Ensure the Safety and Wellness of Students and Staff

teacher

Deliver high-quality instruction to students, regardless of delivery model

equity

Equity: Ensuring All Means All

resources

Optimize use of resources (Spaces and Materials)

plan

Community and stakeholder engagement in plan development

Learning Options

The Choice is Yours

blended-learning

Blended Virtual Learning

Students will rotate between learning in classrooms and learning online, attending classrooms on an A/B schedule to reduce class sizes and the number of students in buildings.

Learn More

online learning

Virtual Learning

MCPS will offer comprehensive virtual learning opportunities for students and families who do not wish to participate in face-to-face instruction when the school year begins.

Learn More

Blended Virtual Learning – Model 1

Students Return in Phases

The 2020-2021 school year will begin on Monday, August 31, 2020, for all students. Students will return to schools on a rotational schedule for in-person learning with reduced class sizes and reduced numbers of students in the buildings. Due to limited capacity, transportation resources will be prioritized to elementary and middle school students. The goal is for all grade levels to be in a school rotation by end of November. Students will return to classrooms by grade level, last name/address, and cluster in phases over the first months of the school year.

Implementation Schedule

  • MCPS anticipates starting the school year in a virtual-only instructional model given the current public health conditions, to plan for the needs of our families and to provide sufficient training for staff and students on new COVID-19 protocols.
  • Phases will last 2-4 weeks depending on school level and grade/age.
  • Phases may be adjusted based on changing public health conditions and implementation experience.
  • Details and dates will follow.

Sequencing

Students in specific special education programs and students new to a school level (Prekindergarten, Kindergarten, 6th and 9th) are the first returning to school.

back to school  
 

Rotating Schedule

There will be a rotating schedule for in-person and virtual learning with groups of students attending at their school on assigned days each week. On days not attending in person, students will be home with virtual learning.

Rotating A/B schedule by grade level; student last name/home address; and school cluster for elementary and middle
ab sample schedule  
  • Subject to change based on public health conditions and operational experiences as the schedule is implemented.
  • Families will have the option to choose a virtual-only format once the final schedule and reopening plan is released.
  • MCPS will be prepared to move all students to virtual only instruction based on a State and/or local decision about closures as a result of an increase in COVID-19 spread.
 
 

Blended Virtual Learning Sample Schedules

Elementary Schools

Students Return in Phases:

Phase 1 Prekindergarten, Kindergarten and students in specific Special Education Programs

Phase 2 Grade 1 and Grade 2

Phase 3 Grade 3 through Grade 5

See Sample Schedule

Middle Schools

Students Return in Phases:

Phase 1 Grade 6 and students in specific Special Education Programs

Phase 2 Grade 7

Phase 3 Grade 8

See Sample Schedule

High Schools

Students Return in Phases:

Phase 1 Grade 9 and students in specific Special Education Programs

Phase 2 Grade 10

Phase 3 Grade 11 and Grade 12

See Sample Schedule

Virtual Only Learning – Model 2

home  
Virtual Learning

MCPS will offer comprehensive virtual learning opportunities for students and families who do not wish to participate in in-person instruction when the school year begins.

teacher  
More Teacher-Led Instruction

Virtual learning will feature more live, teacher-led instruction.

clock  
Some Asynchronous Learning

Virtual learning will also include some asynchronous (independent) learning. There will be options for students to access instruction at a time that best meets their needs.

 
 

*MCPS will be prepared to move all students to virtual only instruction based on a state and/or local decision about closures as a result of an increase in COVID-19 spread.


Virtual Only Sample Schedules

Elementary Schools

See Sample Schedule

Middle Schools

See Sample Schedule

High Schools

See Sample Schedule

Robust Health and Safety Considerations

MCPS will implement the following health and safety practices across all schools and offices:

smaple image Health Questionnaire

Health questionnaire for staff and students

smaple image Face Coverings

Face coverings will be required and provided as needed to staff and students.

smaple image Limited Access

Access to schools will be limited to students and staff as much as possible.

smaple image Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer will be provided, with hand sanitizing stations at building entrances, and in classrooms and shared spaces.

smaple image Physical Distancing

There will be increased spacing in the building and in classrooms with fewer students in spaces. Classroom layouts and arrival and dismissal processes will be modified to maintain physical distancing.

smaple imageTraining

Students and staff will receive training on COVID-19 prevention practices, including social distancing and face covering use. Signage and ongoing communication will supplement and reinforce training.

smaple image Hand-Washing

Hand-washing will be encouraged throughout the day and required before and after meals

smaple image No Supply Sharing

MCPS will increase ordering of all school supplies to eliminate sharing, particularly at the elementary level.

smaple image Ongoing Support

School administrators will be provided ongoing support to ensure effective systemwide implementation of health and safety practices.

smaple image MCPS Issued Devices

MCPS will continue to provide Chromebooks and other devices to students as needs are identified.

smaple image Storage Space

Increased ordering of containers to provide storage space for students in classrooms.

smaple image Cleaning

Frequent cleaning of all MCPS schools, facilities and buses.

Transportation

smaple image Transporting Students To and From School Safely

  • MCPS will limit capacity to 12 passengers on an MCPS general education bus, in accordance with current public health guidelines.
  • In light of capacity limitations, families will need to opt in to request school bus transportation. While we will make every effort to transport students who need school bus transportation to school, the transportation capacity is very limited due to public health guidelines. Available school bus capacity will be prioritized for elementary and middle school students.
  • The Department of Transportation will hold training sessions for staff to review COVD-19 protocols, including bus cleaning.
Bus Seating Capacity
seating

Food Services

smaple image Encourage Bringing Lunch

Students will be encouraged to bring their own meals as feasible, or they will be served individually plated meals in classrooms instead of in a communal dining hall or cafeteria.

smaple image Enforce Hand-Washing

We will enforce strict hand-washing with soap and water after meals.

smaple image Disinfect Surfaces

We will disinfect surfaces regularly.

smaple image No Sharing Food

We will continue to practice the “do not share” food policy among students.

smaple image Review Food Allergy Plans

Before school resumes, teachers and school leaders will review food allergy and 504 plans for all children with food allergies.

Videos

Learn how MCPS is preparing for students to return to a safe and healthy environment for learning in the fall.

English

Spanish

Athletics

MCPS will continue in Phase 1 of the Return to R.A.I.S.E. plan, which provides guidance for the virtual engagement of out-of-season activities and prohibits in-person activities, through August 11, 2020. All in-person summer conditioning and activities are cancelled through this time. Updates regarding the status of fall sports and program operations beginning August 12, will be provided by the end of July. Decisions will be made in alignment with state and county health guidelines. The latest information and updates regarding the operations of the MCPS interscholastic athletics program are available on the COVID-19 Athletics Information section of the MCPS Athletics webpage.

View COVID-19 Athletics Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Our conversations and preparation for the 2020-2021 school year have been rooted in health and safety, which is our top priority in getting ready to welcome students, educators, administrators and support staff back into our buildings. While our return to school will look different given the new health and safety measures in place, our commitment to ensuring all students have a safe, welcoming and fun environment to learn and thrive remains the same. We will be sensitive to the health needs of our staff and families and will offer alternative options for those who are unable to return to our buildings.

We are prioritizing health and safety measures such as hand sanitizer and hand washing, face coverings, and physical distancing to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

We will contact the Department of Health and Human Services and follow their guidance on closure, testing and self-quarantine. MCPS will be prepared to move into a fully virtual learning plan based on a state and/or local decision about closures as a result of an increase in COVID-19 spread.

All adults and students will be required to wear face coverings in accordance with county guidance.

Families will be able to select an instructional model preference for the fall during the registration period. The selected preference will be for the entire semester. However, if a family needs to change its selection, there will be a process for doing so. 

Any student who is not feeling well or showing symptoms of illness, such as an elevated body temperature or cold symptoms, must stay home. Please contact your child’s primary care physician.

All adults will be required to wear masks. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the school, and staff and students will be given multiple opportunities to sanitize their hands.

Families will be able to select an instructional model preference for the fall during the registration period. The selected preference will be for the entire semester. However, if a family needs to change its selection, there will be a process for doing so.

Our goal is to provide high-quality instruction and learning experiences for all MCPS students, whether in person or virtually. We are working diligently on plans for the fall focused on enhancing remote learning and bringing back as many students as possible for face-to-face instruction on a consistent and rotating basis.

Students and staff will receive training on COVID-19 prevention practices, including social distancing and face covering use. Signage and ongoing communication will supplement and reinforce training.There will be increased spacing in the building and in classrooms with fewer students in spaces. Classroom layouts and arrival and dismissal processes will be modified to maintain social distancing.

MCPS will provide students and staff with masks. The district will also ensure that schools are fully stocked with hand sanitizer and soap for hand washing.

It is essential that we follow the guidance of health experts and elected officials. We expect there to be a simple, but strict wellness screening for all adults and students as they arrive at school and offices. This will include a health questionnaire. Any staff member or student who is not feeling well or showing symptoms of illness, such as an elevated body temperature or cold symptoms, must stay home. All adults and students in specific grades will be required to wear masks. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the school, and staff and students will be given frequent opportunities to sanitize/wash their hands.

MCPS will provide additional social-emotional supports and resources for students and staff through our BeWell 365 initiative.

Timeline of important events for our fall recovery planning
 
 
Results from the parent/staff surveys on fall recovery planning which took place June 22 through July 8.
 
 

Glossary of Common Terms

Distance and/or e-learning

Overarching term for a variety of learning modalities involving virtual experiences whether they are asynchronous or synchronous. As decisions are made, a full understanding of the benefits, limitations, and considerations of each modality is important. Please see the chart in the second section of the document.

Synchronous learning

Remote learning that happens in real-time with the interaction between the teacher and students. This can occur both in a face to face environment or in a virtual classroom setting. This is teacher led Instruction that occurs in real time and often at a scheduled or live time. For example, logging into a Zoom at 9 am to attend a Math class or reporting to school for a class.

Asynchronous learning

Learning that occurs online without real-time interaction or instruction by an educator. This is teacher designed instruction that a student does on their own. The content and learning activities are teacher selected, but the student completes those activities on their own as part of independent work. Examples may include but not limited to pre-recorded video lessons, resource videos, assigned readings, and posted assignments.

In Person Learning

This is learning that occurs inside of a school building. In person learning refers to instructional experiences that take place on property and inside of a facility with a staff member.

Virtual Learning

This refers to the online learning environment and includes BOTH live/synchronous instruction and/or asynchronous instruction.

Blended Virtual Learning
  • Blended Learning (hybrid) Program is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning that requires access to the Internet, an electronic device, web conferencing tools, and a learning platform.
  • Local school system educators deliver instruction aligned with the school’s curriculum and monitor student attendance, growth, IEP requirements, and provide differentiation for individual students.
  • This includes the use of the local school system educators and curriculum allows for the flexibility of moving between synchronous instruction received entirely at home via web conferencing and traditional instruction delivered in the brick and mortar environment. This refers to students who spend a portion of their instructional experience in person AND virtual through the cohort A/B approach.
mom and daughter at computer
Independent Work

This is work that a student does on their own, either during or after instruction. It may also be driven by asynchronous instructional experiences. For example it might take place within a math block, during a scheduled block of time or after a class period as part of asynchronous learning.

Small Group Work

This is work that a student does under the direction and support of a staff member. It often occurs inside of a live instructional experience. For example, students may work in a breakout room.

Individual Student Support

This is time under the direct supervision of a staff member and occurs in real time or live. This support may include special education or related services as part of an IEP, wellness or counseling services, interventions, or follow-up work with individual students or small groups at the direction of staff.

Submit Feedback

Fill out my online form.