MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Montgomery County Public School students will have to wait a bit longer to return to their classrooms as the third wave of coronavirus continues to impact the DMV.
The MCPS Board of Education voted Tuesday to delay the start of in-person learning from Feb. 1 to March 15, at the earliest. The vote coincides with Maryland's highest single-day death count since May 12 and an all-time high of new infections.
"We understand that many MCPS families will be disappointed that we are unable to return to in-person instruction on February 1," the school district said in a statement. "The safety of students and staff has, and will continue to, guide our return to in-person learning. The current numbers simply do not support a return at this time."
The school district's metrics for returning to classrooms are a test positivity rate below 5% or a case rate of 15 per 100,000 residents or less. Currently, the county health department is reporting a 7.8% test positivity rate and 45.4 cases per 100,000.
In order to enhance the virtual learning experience, the Board announced several improvements that will be implemented across the county, with a focus on secondary education. These include:
- Focused outreach services for struggling students
- Greater use of the Wednesday virtual check-in day for students who need academic and social-emotional support
- At the secondary level, providing opportunities to request an abbreviated schedule to lighten course load and take a course over the summer or in future semesters instead
- Relaxing restrictions to allow students to take up to two courses Credit/No Credit (also known as Pass/Fail) instead of a letter grade
- Providing additional instructional times that may involve Saturdays, including for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses
- Tutoring and homework help options
- Providing additional professional development for staff to help strengthen the virtual learning experience
"To take advantage of some of these options, students/parents will need to consult with their school counselor to make any schedule adjustments for the second semester and to ensure progress toward graduation requirements and post-secondary planning," MCPS said in its statement.
MCPS also said that more information would be released in the coming weeks on what to expect for the fall sports season.