Commitments for
Reopening Schools

The Montgomery County Board of Education and MCPS strive to ensure that students receive a high-quality education in a safe environment. They commit to the following measures in order to protect students, teachers, staff, and the community:

  • Require that face masks be worn in all school buildings, buses and MCPS
  • Require that employees submit proof of vaccination or participate in weekly COVID-19 testing 
  • Encourage the use of outdoor spaces for unmasked educational and social experiences for our students
  • Facilitate continuity of educational services for students who are unable to attend in-person instruction due to the need to quarantine
  • Provide opportunities for individuals to engage in preventative measures such as frequent hand-washing and sanitizing
  • Remind students and staff that they must stay home when experiencing any possible symptoms of COVID-19
  • Ensure school facilities will be regularly sanitized, equipped with cleaning supplies, and ventilation and air quality monitored
  • Provide in-school COVID-19 pool testing for random samples of students in prekindergarten through 6th grade, since students younger than 12 are not eligible to receive the vaccine
  • Communicate clearly, concisely, and in a timely manner with families, students and staff as information becomes available
  • Respond to changing conditions so that our students will not experience major disruptions in their education
 

Ensuring Equity for All

MCPS' core principle of equity is embedded throughout the district's planning and decision-making.

How We Are
Staying Safe

safety Health and Safety Procedures

As schools reopen, the safety of students and staff remains the top priority of MCPS. MCPS continues to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In accordance with CDC guidance, MCPS will implement a multi-layer health and safety protocol that includes multiple strategies to protect school community members from COVID-19, including: use of masks/face coverings, vaccine promotion, enhanced sanitation, frequent hand-washing, improved ventilation, and quarantine and contact tracing in the event that a student or staff member tests positive. Specifically, MCPS will implement the following health and safety practices in schools, offices and on school buses.

Face Coverings
Face Coverings

All MCPS students, staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings in school buildings and offices this fall, regardless of vaccination status. Approved types of masks/face coverings include: disposable masks, cloth mask coverings, gaiters, clear masks and cloth masks with clear plastic pane. Face coverings must fit properly with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Face coverings/masks will be provided for any student, staff or visitor who does not have one while in an MCPS building.

Cleaning
Cleaning

MCPS building service staff will continue to regularly clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in MCPS facilities. Special attention is given to door handles, light switches, sink handles, and other surfaces that are touched frequently. Restrooms in common areas are cleaned and disinfected more frequently throughout the day.

Hand Sanitizer and Hand Washing
Hand Sanitizer and Hand Washing

Regular hand-washing will be encouraged whenever students are in school buildings. Hand sanitizer will be provided to students and staff, with sanitizing stations placed throughout the building.

Triage/Isolation Rooms
Triage/Isolation Rooms

All schools will have a designated isolation and triage space for students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at school. The school health services staff member will conduct an appropriate determination of the student’s condition based on their presenting symptoms.

Contact Tracing
Contact Tracing

MCPS follows the recommendations and guidance of DHHS and School Health Services regarding the need to isolate and quarantine students due to a positive COVID test or exposure.

Following CDC guidelines, MCPS staff work with classroom and school staff to gather information, including seating charts, classroom activities, lunch and recess contacts, and identifies close contacts who need to quarantine.

A letter is sent to all families of students who are required to quarantine and provides information on monitoring for symptoms, when to seek medical care, who to contact if they test positive or develop symptoms during quarantine, the length of quarantine and return date, free testing and vaccination sites in the county, and information regarding further contact by the Department of Health.

See the letter templates:

MCPS is in the process of hiring 10 additional contact tracers to assist and support schools with identifying close contacts.

Cleaning
Access to COVID-19 Testing

Free COVID-19 testing is available for all students in every school. Testing is an important strategy for keeping schools open and students and staff safe. With testing, MCPS can minimize the number of students in quarantine and minimize interruptions to program activities. Parents/guardians must give their consent for testing. Families can fill out the consent form, which is available in multiple languages, or request paper copies from their school.

There are two types of COVID-19 testing available. Rapid tests are used when a student exhibits COVID-19 symptoms during the school day. Results are available within 15-20 minutes. Screening tests are given weekly to a random sample of students with no COVID-19 symptoms. These results are available in a few days.

More information is available here.

 
Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality
Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality

MCPS has taken these steps to improve ventilation and ensure the health and safety of students and staff:

  1. Assessed all existing systems and equipment
  2. Scheduled the replacement of all HVAC filters, upgrading them to the highest Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) efficiency possible for improved air filtration
  3. Increased fresh air ventilation in buildings
  4. Purchased portable air cleaners for installation in identified classrooms, specific offices, health rooms and areas that will be used as isolation rooms for those experiencing symptoms while at school
  5. Modified HVAC system operations to include an extended run time that will allow the air in buildings to be "flushed" before and after the facility is occupied
Vaccination
Vaccination

MCPS urges all eligible students and staff members to receive the vaccination to protect against COVID-19. In addition, MCPS will require that employees submit proof of vaccination or participate in weekly COVID-19 testing. More details will be shared with employees prior to the start of the school year.

Cleaning
Ongoing Support

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

 
Physical Distancing
Physical Distancing

MCPS will return to pre-pandemic class sizes and spacing. While the CDC encourages school districts to implement physical distancing to the extent possible, it cautions against implementing distancing requirements that would lead to the exclusion of students from in-person learning. Schools will also be encouraged to use outdoor spaces for unmasked educational and social experiences.

Quarantine
Quarantine

Symptomatic student with a negative rapid test: no quarantine of close contacts, but exceptions based on follow-up PCR test
If a student with COVID-19 symptoms tests negative on the rapid test, it is recommended that the student follow up with a PCR test.

  • While awaiting the results of the PCR test, close contacts do not need to quarantine.
  • If the PCR test is negative, close contacts do not need to quarantine.
  • If the PCR test is positive, unvaccinated close contacts will need to quarantine.

If a parent does not consent to the rapid test for their child, unvaccinated close contacts of the child will not be required to quarantine unless the symptomatic child has had a known exposure to COVID-19 or if the level of exposure cannot be reliably confirmed. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has indicated that based on the rapid tests to date they “expect that this circumstance will not arise often.”

Symptomatic student with a positive rapid test: unvaccinated close contacts must quarantine for 10 days
If a student with COVID-19 symptoms tests positive on the rapid test, unvaccinated students who were in close contact with the symptomatic student will be required to quarantine for 10 days. Unvaccinated students who have been identified as close contacts to a confirmed COVID-19 case must complete the full 10-day quarantine and may not test out and return prior to completing the full 10 days.


Say YES to the Test—Random and Rapid COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 Rapid & Random Testing Consent (Opt-In) Form

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COVID-19 Random and Rapid Testing Now In All Schools 

Montgomery County Public Schools is providing COVID-19 rapid testing in all schools to minimize student quarantines. The use of these rapid (antigen) tests, in conjunction with the other safety measures we have in place, will help keep more students in school. Staff from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will determine that a COVID-19 rapid test should be administered when a student presents to a health room with potential COVID-19 symptoms. Student participation in the rapid testing program requires parental consent. If no consent form has been submitted, DHHS staff will contact by phone the student’s parent/guardian that is identified in the student’s school records. DHHS staff will explain to the parent/guardian why their child is being considered for testing and request the parent’s/guardian’s permission to test the student. After obtaining verbal consent for testing from the student’s parent/guardian, DHHS staff will send home a consent form along with additional information about the test results. Parents/guardians are encouraged to return the consent form to school as soon as possible. Participation is voluntary.

Rapid (antigen) tests will be administered through nasal swabs and results will be available within 15-20 minutes. Rapid testing is offered in addition to the random screening test program. The random screening test program utilizes PCR tests for laboratory testing and results are typically available within 24-48 hours. All testing is provided at no cost.

If you have already submitted a consent form for the COVID-19 Screening Test Program, no further action is required. MCPS will accept consent forms received for the screening test program as consent for rapid testing. Consent for both the random screening test program and rapid testing have been consolidated onto one form. A separate form must be completed for each child. 



Safe Transportation of Students

Normal, pre-pandemic transportation routes and capacity will resume when MCPS schools open in the fall. Families have been notified of the bus routes for their assigned school.

While on school buses, all students are required to wear appropriate face coverings. Students with special needs who are unable to always wear a face covering will be appropriately accommodated on an individual, case-by-case basis. Bus drivers will clean and disinfect buses daily. Weather permitting, bus drivers will keep the windows open to increase air circulation and decrease the likelihood that the virus is transmitted during transport. Additionally, all MCPS school buses are equipped with interior video cameras. Footage from these cameras is being used when needed to identify seating locations for contact tracing purposes.

During daily pre-trip safety inspection of buses, bus drivers and bus attendants will ensure COVID-19 safety supplies, such as extra masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning/disinfecting supplies, are available. Bus drivers and bus attendants continue to be trained on the latest COVID-19 safety protocols during in-service training, two-way radio announcements, newsletters and direct interaction with supervisors.

Schools, in conjunction with the Montgomery County Police in some cases, are enhancing on-site and immediately off-site traffic plans to accommodate increased drop-off and pick-up traffic to facilitate the option of parents driving students to and from school. The Montgomery County Safe Routes to School Program is encouraging the formation of Walking School Buses to offer families another option for getting students to and from school.

Food and Nutrition Services

Masks should remain on unless students are actively eating and drinking. Students will be able to eat breakfast and lunch in cafeterias and other designated areas, including outdoor spaces when feasible.

Note: All meals will be provided free of charge during the 2021-2022 school year. MCPS will continue to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner meals to all students in schools and at designated food distribution sites.

Access to All Eating Areas

Students will be able to eat breakfast and lunch in cafeterias and other available eating areas. Schools are encouraged to take advantage of outdoor spaces when possible so that students can eat in areas that pose a lower risk of virus transmission. High schools may return to open campus lunch.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Students, staff and guests who participate in or attend extra-curricular and fine arts programs that resume in-person in the fall will follow guidelines and protocols for in-person activities and performances. Some programs, such as singing, pose a higher risk of spreading COVID, and may require extra precautions.

For detailed information, click here.

Athletics

Athletics will resume in-person in the fall and students, staff, and spectators will be expected to follow detailed protocols developed by the Covid-19 Task Force for MCPS Athletics. The guidelines address the use of masks, hand hygiene, hydration, transportation, locker rooms, and other practices related to the athletics program.

For detailed information, click here.

Contingency Plans

While the top priority is providing in-person instruction five days a week, MCPS is engaged in ongoing contingency planning to address potential COVID-related issues that may arise throughout the school year.

If a student/group of students need to quarantine as a result of direct exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, MCPS will strive to minimize disruption to student learning during a quarantine period by having systems in place for students to receive virtual instructional support. These structures will vary depending on the circumstances and will be communicated directly with families when the need arises. More details about this will be shared with the community prior to the start of the school year.

MCPS will not close school buildings and move to fully virtual instruction unless ordered to do so by state government officials. If the state government orders reduced capacity in school buildings, MCPS is developing a plan for hybrid instruction where students would receive in-person instruction on some days and virtual instruction on other days.

This plan for hybrid instruction will only occur if the school system is required by state government officials to reduce capacity in school buildings as a result of health conditions in the county or state.

What to Expect

Focus on Academics

Plan for Instructional Success

MCPS has developed multi-year plans to ensure students can access content they missed last year and receive support to ensure they are performing on grade level.

Time is built into the school day for intervention and support at the elementary and secondary levels. In addition, students who demonstrate significant gaps in learning will have the opportunity to participate in an after-school tutoring session or receive support from external partners.

Grading, Attendance, Engagement and Assessments

Grading

Last school year, schools were charged with creating an academic and well-being support team. This team ensures all students are accounted for and families are connected to resources during the COVID-19 pandemic and during reopening. School leaders, counselors, PPWs, parent community coordinators and specialists in the special education, Title I and ESOL offices all serve as key members on these well-being teams and analyze data and help to coordinate outreach to students and families.

For students who are not successfully engaged in attending school regularly, coordinated support across office and school teams has been put in place. Specifically, the Office of Family Support and Engagement is providing well checks and linking students and families to Tier 2 and 3 interventions and outside resources to assist them in re-engaging in attending school. In addition, Principals, Counselors, Pupil Personnel Workers (PPWs) and Parent Community Coordinators (PCCs) are helping to provide support in translating materials and troubleshooting barriers to attending and engaging. The Office of Special Education is providing case management support to students and families and is logging these efforts in the student information system. All engagement and well-being data is being logged in a newly created module in the student information system so that multiple offices and school staff can better coordinate support and outreach.

Well-Being Teams

Last school year, schools were charged with creating an academic and well-being support team. This team ensures all students are accounted for and families are connected to resources during the COVID-19 pandemic and during reopening. School leaders, counselors, PPWs, parent community coordinators and specialists in the special education, Title I and ESOL offices all serve as key members on these well-being teams and analyze data and help to coordinate outreach to students and families.

For students who are not successfully engaged in attending school regularly, coordinated support across office and school teams has been put in place. Specifically, the Office of Family Support and Engagement is providing well checks and linking students and families to Tier 2 and 3 interventions and outside resources to assist them in re-engaging in attending school. In addition, Principals, Counselors, Pupil Personnel Workers (PPWs) and Parent Community Coordinators (PCCs) are helping to provide support in translating materials and troubleshooting barriers to attending and engaging. The Office of Special Education is providing case management support to students and families and is logging these efforts in the student information system. All engagement and well-being data is being logged in a newly created module in the student information system so that multiple offices and school staff can better coordinate support and outreach.

Engagement

MCPS MTSS Intervention Guidance is used to define the intervention process in MCPS. Read More

Reporting Attendance

Each morning, parents and/or guardians should check on their children’s health. If a child is showing any COVID-19 symptoms, parents and/or guardians should keep the child at home and contact their medical provider. Attendance policies that were in place before the COVID-19 pandemic will be reestablished and implemented. Please reference MCPS Regulation JEA-RA: Student Attendance. This includes the taking, recording and reporting of daily attendance, tardies, excused absences and unexcused absences. For elementary schools, attendance will be taken each day at the beginning of the school day. For secondary schools, attendance is taken each period and calculated to compute a daily attendance code. 

Attendance is taken by teachers and recorded in Synergy, the student information system. This data is visible to parents through ParentVUE, the parent portal. When a student is marked absent, an automated ConnectEd call alerts the parent/guardian that the student is absent. This allows for quick intervention and escalation if needed. Daily attendance reports are run at the local school level so that leaders can review attendance patterns and identify students who may need support in attending school regularly. During the first three weeks of school, central office staff will also monitor attendance daily to identify students who have not returned to school and to plan outreach processes to families. A number of student-level and aggregate reports at the school and district level are used to monitor attendance and provide quick intervention as needed.

Quarantine

There may be times when students need to quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19. In these cases, students will be marked as an excused absence and a code unique to MCPS (QUA) will be assigned. This code allows MCPS to monitor and track students who need to quarantine. While students are in quarantine, they will be provided with learning materials and a Zoom link to attend live instruction with a designated quarantine teacher. This teacher will provide direct instruction and review and will also facilitate small group instruction in reading and mathematics. In addition, students will have access to learning materials in the learning management system myMCPS Classroom (Canvas). Attendance will be monitored during quarantine.

Virtual Academy Attendance

Synchronous instruction is provided every day to students in the Virtual Academy. Students are expected to attend class every day. Attendance is taken daily in accordance with MCPS policy and in alignment with in-person instruction. Elementary teachers take attendance once a day in the morning, and secondary teachers take attendance at the beginning of each class period. Secondary period-by-period attendance is aggregated to compute a daily attendance record which is logged in Synergy, the student information system. The Virtual Academy has two well-being teams, one at the elementary level and one at the secondary level. These teams meet weekly and analyze attendance and engagement data on all students. They identify students who need additional outreach and develop processes and plans for supporting students. All PPWs support the students in the Virtual Academy. Because students are still enrolled in their home school, counseling staff at the virtual academy partners with counseling staff at the home school to provide coordinated support and services.

Technology

All students will continue to have their own Chromebooks, case and headphones. Students will keep these tools throughout their time as MCPS students. Students and their families will use these tools at no cost, unless there is avoidable damage or loss. If avoidable damage or loss occurs, the student and family will work with their school to repair/replace the device. When the repair/replacement cost is assessed and paid, a replacement device or repaired device will be issued. Specific details about the repair/replacement program will be provided to schools for dissemination to families.

Students who do not have access to the internet at home can continue to use the Mi-Fi hotspots provided during the virtual-only learning period. The Chromebooks and Mi-Fi hotspots are Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) compliant, and have filters and controls on them, at all times.

In-Person

Students are expected to bring their devices to and from school, as instructed by their teacher(s). The MCPS network has been designed to support all student and staff devices, so instruction and assessment using these devices should be seamless.

Virtual

At the elementary level, students receive virtual instruction in literacy and math using grade-level curriculum resources. Social studies and science curriculum resources and tasks are provided with check-in opportunities throughout the day. Resources are delivered through Canvas.

At the secondary level, students receive tasks aligned to classroom learning through the Canvas platform. Check-in opportunities with content teachers are provided throughout the day.   

Canvas

The Canvas platform is used to monitor attendance, engage students, collect assignments and assessments and record grades.  

Staffing

Each school identifies available staff to support instruction. At the elementary level, this includes reading specialists, staff development teachers, paraeducators, classroom teachers, administrators and others. At the secondary level, content teachers support instruction.  

All schools have established rotating staff schedules to ensure all instructional blocks are covered throughout the day. Elementary schools have the option of utilizing a cluster model in which staff may support students from multiple schools.

Special Education

Schools ensure that students with service plans are identified for staff supporting quarantine instruction. Through the cluster model at the elementary level, service needs are identified when students are added to the quarantine student list. 

Community Engagement and Communications

MCPS is providing members of the community with an opportunity to ask questions and provide ongoing feedback on the reopening plan through an online feedback form. MCPS will communicate with students, staff, families and community stakeholders about its reopening efforts throughout the school year. 


Engaging with diverse stakeholder groups will be important to ensuring adequate feedback for strategies and will rely on two resources already in place:

  • COVID-19 Operations Advisory Committee
  • Family Engagement Advisory Team (FEAT)

The MCPS Department of Communications is responsible for developing, administering and monitoring the effectiveness of communications and outreach for the 2021 Reopening Plan. The responsible individual for that office is Christopher Cram, Director of Communications. The office can be reached in the following ways:

Communications Plan

Submit Feedback

Your comments and feedback are important and continue to help inform our planning.
Please visit www.mcpssubmitfeedback.org to provide feedback on our reopening plan throughout the year.