MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — On Thursday, the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) Board of Education held a business meeting where school leaders discussed how the surge in COVID cases is impacting classrooms. During the meeting, MCPS revealed their plans to move forward and discussed the reality of daily staffing shortages they’re experiencing.
On Thursday, the district said they started the day with 889 call outs, that number does not include the call outs the district received in the morning.
Leah Michaels is an MCPS teacher and sits on the Board of the Teachers Union.
"We’re just in denial, I feel like the system is in denial. We do not have the staff we need to really make it work well in person, at least not without more creative thinking and solutions," Michael said.
Montgomery County teachers on Wednesday passed a resolution of “no confidence” in school district leaders’ ability to handle the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michaels said of the teachers who voted, 94% of them are not satisfied with the district's plans and seeing the rollout of how to handle distance learning if students are out of school with COVID-19, was news to them.
"We would like to be real partners in the decision-making process because we have to implement these plans," Michaels added.
The district recently revised its plans for distance learning. The plan includes using Canvas Sites and not Zoom, providing on-demand video screencasts, and continuing to prioritize literacy and math only.
Plans are also in place for secondary learning, as well as for students with special needs.
Interim Superintendent, Dr. Monifa McKnight thanked students, teachers and staff for their feedback. She placed emphasis on teachers who are often having to manage more than they typically do.
"The last 22 months have been something that no school system has ever experienced in the history of education. There is no road map to it, there are no answers figured out. Not when the federal and state localities are trying to figure it out at the very same time," Dr. McKnight said.
She also thanked parents extensively for their patience and efforts to coordinate transportation for students as the district is also dealing with a bus driver shortage.
The uncharted waters teachers are wading is why Michaels believes that in-person learning, at the moment, isn’t the best solution.
"It just might not be reasonable for every kid to be here in person all the time, right now," she said.