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Montgomery County Public Schools will start bringing students back to class starting March 1

While the board voted unanimously to begin the phased return to the classroom, officials say students will have the choice to continue with virtual learning.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education voted Tuesday to begin bringing some students back into classrooms starting on March 1.

While the board voted unanimously to begin the phased return to the classroom, officials say students will have the choice to continue with virtual learning.

Beginning March 1, children with special needs along with students in certain technical programs, such as automotive and cosmetics, will go back on a hybrid model.  On March 15, students in Pre-K through 3rd grade will go back to hybrid. However, some schools will be participating in a weekly A/B day rotation -- with Group A attending in person one week and Group B attending virtually, alternating each week.

Starting April 6, the remaining grades, beginning with seniors, will begin to go back to in-person learning.

The Board also voted to adjust the 2020-2021 school calendar to make March 8 a non-instructional day for staff to finish the preparation of buildings and participate in professional development before students return, officials said in a release.

Credit: Montgomery County Public Schools

When students return to the classroom, officials urge that it will look and feel much different from what they previously experienced in school buildings. Face coverings, physical distancing and frequent hand-washing will be required to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

During the Board meeting, staff shared an outline of what parents, students and staff can expect for in-person and virtual learning. In addition to direct instruction, students will experience the following:

  • Academic interventions or small group instruction in English Language Arts/Math
  • Re-teaching and review of concepts
  • Structured class discussions or peer-to-peer collaborative learning opportunities
  • Opportunities to participate in recess, lunch and other activities 
  • Social-emotional learning or well-being activities (i.e., classroom community building)

"MCPS is committed to bringing students back as quickly and safely as possible over the next few weeks. However, because we are unable to predict the path of the pandemic, should the present downward trend in cases change, MCPS may need to revisit the approved timeline to keep the well-being of our students and staff at the forefront of our planning," the school district said in a release sent to families Tuesday evening.

Back in January, Montgomery County announced that the county has partnered with Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) to start vaccinating teachers and eligible staff this week, in an effort to reopen schools. 

Maryland provided 8,775 doses to JHM to vaccinate Montgomery County residents who are older than 65 who and have received care from JHM providers within the last two years as well as MCPS employees. 

Employees who are eligible will be identified by MCPS and referred to JHM for appointment scheduling. People who meet these criteria will be contacted via email by JHM when a vaccine appointment is available.

RELATED: COVID vaccination not required to go back to school, CDC director says. Some MCPS teachers disagree

RELATED: New initiative to get Montgomery County teachers vaccinated before March

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