Staff Message Concerning FAQs

UPDATED: February 16, 2021

Dear MCPS Staff:

In an effort to ensure that all MCPS staff have the most up-to-date information concerning our return-to-school plan, we are providing this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document. This document will be updated and shared with you frequently as more information becomes available. 

MCPS is doing significant work to provide high-quality learning experiences for all students and ensure the safety for students and staff. We understand that you may have questions about operations, vaccines, safety, professional development, school plans and more as students and staff begin to return to buildings on March 1 and March 15. This FAQ document is meant to answer as many of these questions as possible.

Thank you for your continued support and patience as we work through these efforts and for your commitment to our students.

Montgomery County Public Schools

 

Frequently Asked Questions for MCPS Staff

INSTRUCTION & BUILDING OPERATIONS

A: The need for professional development primarily focuses on operational, health, safety and any new technology tools. Staff are already familiar with how to design learning experiences for students. The instructional experiences depict how virtual and in-person interact. There are four pillars of instructional experiences: whole-group direct, small-group staff-led, independent work and  peer work. Each of these experiences can occur virtually and in-person, and they will often overlap. Teachers are familiar with how to do this both virtually and in-person as they have experiences with both from the past year. We will have pre-service days for additional training and support as it relates to the needs school teams identify.

A: Multiple resources have been developed to communicate all aspects of the return-to-school plan. The MCPS Reimagine, Reopen, Recover website (https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/reopening/) features much of this information, including the full recovery guide, videos, flyers, graphics, timelines and more. School leaders will have a toolkit developed centrally to aid with their communication home including resources for social media, school letters and their websites.

A: The four instructional experiences students may encounter are explained both in the Recovery Guide and on the Recovery Website           (https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/reopening/ ) but also in this flyer      (https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/reopening/docs/Instructional-Experience-Models.pdf ) All students may experience some or all of the described instructional experiences and they may be used interchangeably.
Additionally:

  • Intervention, ESOL, and Special Education supports will exist in each experience.

  • In-person and virtual schedules will align to allow staff to serve students in both experiences within the same school.

  • In all experiences, students will have supervision and individualized support including:

    • Academic interventions or small group instruction in English Language Arts and Math

    • Direct teaching opportunities that are conducive to the virtual schedule

    • Re-teaching and review of concepts from virtual instruction,

    • Structured class discussions or peer-to-peer collaborative learning opportunities

    • Outside of the virtual class periods, there will be opportunities for students to attend recess, lunch, and specials (art, music, physical education)

    • Social-emotional learning or well-being activities

A: OHRD has been actively recruiting for the hiring needs of the school system as students return to in person instruction.  Every school was provided with an additional teacher allocation. December college graduates, retired educators, and substitute teachers were targeted to fill these positions. LinkedIn and School Spring.com were also utilized to capture additional candidates for these positions.  Classroom monitors will also be needed for the return to in person instruction. The role of the classroom monitor is to support morning arrival, lunch, recess, dismissal, class transition, and classroom coverage of students. To attract qualified classroom monitors, the position has been advertised through LinkedIn, Handshake, SchoolSpring.com and through Montgomery College, the University of the District of Columbia’s Career Centers. , School Spring.com, as well as IHeart radio.  Job fairs are hosted every two weeks for teachers, paraeducators, classroom monitors, and substitute teachers. We continue to hire for all positions. 

A: The approach to returning staff to offices will be aligned with the CDC physical distancing guidelines.  Many offices are outfitted with cubicles and as such we must carefully plan.  Program managers will begin to work with their respective staffs to identify appropriate rotations for in-person work until we can accommodate more employees in a given office work area.  

Vaccination

A: MCPS is following safety guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in implementing the reopening plan approved by the Board of Education. These guidelines include vaccination rollout, important guidance governing physical distancing, face coverings, hand-washing and more. On Feb. 11, the CDC said that schools can safely open without all personnel receiving vaccines provided mitigation protocols are followed. More information is available here.

MCPS is working collaboratively with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Johns Hopkins Medicine to provide access to vaccinations for our staff. Vaccination availability is being aligned with the return to in-person learning plan.
Due to the shortage of the vaccine nationally and in Maryland, we have been informed that it could be up to five weeks (from Feb. 8) before MCPS has access to the COVID-19 vaccine in significant numbers for all staff. Vaccinations will be prioritized to in-person staff, in all positions, as it does become available.
We will continue to keep staff updated on the vaccine registration process.

A: If employees schedule a vaccination for themselves or immediate family members during their scheduled duty hours, they will receive up to 4 hours of Unusual and Imperative Leave. Employees can use available personal leave or sick leave if they need additional time to recuperate.

A: You do not have to be vaccinated in Montgomery County.

A: As long as you’re an MCPS employee, you will have the opportunity to get vaccinated in Montgomery County. As an employer, we are working in collaboration with DHHS and Johns Hopkins Medicine to ensure all employees have the opportunity for a vaccination. All employees will receive an email from DHHS or Johns Hopkins Medicine with details on how to register to get vaccinated. MCPS cannot verify any other websites or information regarding opportunities for vaccination.

A: MCPS will not require proof of vaccination. If you choose to get vaccinated during working hours, use the leave code "unusual and imperative" instead of personal leave.

A: You may take up to four hours of leave to get yourself or a family member vaccinated, and it will not be deducted from your personal leave. Please document your leave as “unusual and imperative” leave. If there is an unexpected circumstance at your vaccination site and it takes longer than four hours to get vaccinated, your leave will still be covered.You may use your personal leave or sick leave should you need additional time to recuperate from the vaccination.

A: Staff may choose to get vaccinated using a different process and location than what is being provided by MCPS; however, MCPS will not manage that process. MCPS will provide all employees the opportunity to get the vaccination from Montgomery County DHHS or Johns Hopkins Medicine. All employees will be contacted by either DHHS or Johns Hopkins Medicine with registration information and vaccine details.

A: Yes, student teachers are included in plans for vaccination.

A: Yes, substitute teachers and temporary part-time employees who are currently on assignment in MCPS are included in the plans for vaccination. They may also use “unusual and imperative” leave in the event their appointment is scheduled during the workday.

A: No. There is no patient fee or co-pay.

A: No. Employees will receive the available vaccine through our medical partners.

HEALTH & SAFETY

A: If your application for
A: MCPS will implement a regular COVID-19 testing protocol in alignment with research best practices. More details about this program will be shared over the coming weeks. Additionally, Governor Larry Hogan announced on Feb. 11 that resources will be made available to conduct testing in schools.


A: MCPS is committed to the safety of our students and staff.  To reduce the spread of COVID-19 MCPS is:

  • Requiring anyone entering an MCPS site or bus to wear a face covering in alignment with state law  

  • Engaging in physical distancing of students and staff in accordance with health guidance 

  • Making hand sanitizer readily available

  • Enhancing and upgrading HVAC in schools

  • Providing regular COVID-19 testing

  • Coordinating vaccinations in partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and Johns Hopkins Medicine

  • Requiring weekly health attestations

  • Providing specific PPE based on job duties and need (see MCPS Recovery Guide) 


A: The Board of Education is committed to ensuring staff have access to the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Staff have been prioritized based on our return to in-person phases as well as those who have been required to engage in front-facing work where physical distancing is not always possible. All staff will have the opportunity to be vaccinated through MCPS partnerships.  For the most recent vaccinations the percentages per association were 6% to school administrators, 42% MCEA and 52% SEIU. A high number of support professionals received the vaccine as their interactions with students are not limited to specific grades or subjects.

(Most recent staff vaccines message)

A: Yes. The process is being finalized to provide multiple ways to attest.  Additionally, MCPS has purchased thermometers for all families to ensure the device is not a barrier to accurate attestation. 

A: From August 2020 through January of this school year, we have delivered more than 400,000 items of personal health and safety supplies to schools and offices.  This includes cloth and disposable masks; face shields; gloves; hand sanitizer and dispenser units; and sani-wipes.  In addition, we have a robust inventory of supplies in our warehouse to be delivered to schools and offices to replenish supplies when students return to in-person instruction.  This inventory includes more than 460,000 masks; 43,000 gloves; 48,000 sani-wipes containers; 8,600 goggles; and other specific personal protective equipment needed by special education and other staff.  We continue to purchase all of these materials to ensure that supplies can be provided as needed throughout the remainder of the school year and into the summer.  To date, MCPS has spent more than $7 million to purchase these critical supplies and will continue to acquire more supplies as needed. Governor Larry Hogan announced on Feb. 11 that the state will also provide school districts with a significant supply of PPE.


A: MCPS will work directly with the Department of Health and Human Services to respond if a COVID-19 case is identified.   


A: Information on how to request an accommodation can be found here: https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/coronavirus/ada/ 

Q: As an employee, what options do I have to take leave until conditions improve or for the remainder of the school year? If I don’t want to return to in-person learning at this time must I resign or retire?
A:   If your application for ADA accommodation to continue telework was denied, you can apply for leave using your existing available leave. Any time beyond the leave will be unpaid. While on unpaid leave, you may be billed for your health insurance at 100% cost based on the duration of your leave. If you opt for unpaid leave for the remainder of this school year, we will, to the extent possible, place you back in your position and job location.


A: If your application for ADA accommodation to continue telework was denied, you can apply for leave using your existing available leave. Any time beyond the leave will be unpaid. While on unpaid leave, you may be billed for your health insurance at 100% cost based on the duration of your leave. If you opt for unpaid leave for the remainder of this school year, we will, to the extent possible, place you back in your position and job location.