Coronavirus → Reopening → Blended
When state and local health officials determine conditions in our county allow for students to return safely after the first semester, we will begin to implement a phased blended model in the second semester (beginning February 1, 2021). 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. Students will return to classrooms by grade level, last name/address, and cluster in phases over the first months of the second semester. These recommendations will continue to be revised and refined throughout the first semester.
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.
Jack R. Smith
Superintendent of Schools
School districts must:
Ensure the Safety and Wellness of Students and Staff
Deliver high-quality instruction to students, regardless of delivery model
Equity: Ensuring All Means All
Optimize use of resources (Spaces and Materials)
Community and stakeholder engagement in plan development
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.
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.
Students in specific special education programs and students new to a school level (Prekindergarten, Kindergarten, 6th and 9th) are the first returning to school.
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
(blended virtual learning means a combination of both in-person and virtual learning)
Phase 1 Grade 6 and students in specific Special Education Programs
Phase 2 Grade 7
Phase 3 Grade 8
Phase 1 Grade 9 and students in specific Special Education Programs
Phase 2 Grade 10
Phase 3 Grade 11 and Grade 12
All students will have live (synchronous) instruction and a full day of instructional experiences.
We will provide timely, relevant and differentiated supports and resources for students, staff and families.
MCPS is developing a process for recording lessons that families can access at a later time.
Learn More About Virtual Learning
MCPS will implement the following health and safety practices across all schools and offices:
Health questionnaire for staff and students
Face coverings will be required and provided as needed to staff and students.
Access to schools will be limited to students and staff as much as possible.
Hand sanitizer will be provided, with hand sanitizing stations at building entrances, and in classrooms and shared spaces.
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.
Students and staff will receive training on COVID-19 prevention practices, including physical distancing and face covering use. Signage and ongoing communication will supplement and reinforce training.
Hand-washing will be encouraged throughout the day and required before and after meals
MCPS will increase ordering of all school supplies to eliminate sharing, particularly at the elementary level.
School administrators will be provided ongoing support to ensure effective systemwide implementation of health and safety practices.
MCPS will continue to provide Chromebooks and other devices to students as needs are identified.
Increased ordering of containers to provide storage space for students in classrooms.
Frequent cleaning of all MCPS schools, facilities and buses.
In addition to providing meals for students receiving in-person instruction, MCPS will continue to providebreakfast and lunch meals to students at designated food distribution sites throughout the county. More information will be posted on the MCPS Meal Service website. .
Encourage students to bring their own meals as feasible, or serve individual grab-and-go meals in classrooms and in flexible spaces like the cafeteria, while ensuring the safety of children with food allergies.
We will enforce strict hand-washing with soap and water after meals.
We will disinfect surfaces regularly.
We will continue to practice the “do not share” food policy among students.
Before school resumes, teachers and school leaders will review food allergy and 504 plans for all children with food allergies.
Learn how MCPS is preparing for students to return to a safe and healthy environment for learning in the fall.
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