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Montgomery County Public Schools to remain in-person, providing KN-95 masks, at-home rapid tests

11 schools will remain virtual until next week.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — The decision has been made: students in Montgomery County Public Schools will not be going virtual. The district made the announcement Sunday.

In the letter, Montgomery County Public Schools apologized for the lack of clear communication surrounding their decisions on COVID-19. The statement says their schools will remain open and switching to virtual will be a last resort. Interim Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Monifa B. McKnight, revealed she's recently tested positive for the virus and she's been working from home while recovering.

Montgomery County Councilman Tom Hucker held a virtual town hall on Sunday for people to express their concerns.

"I already know so many people who go to my school who’ve been quarantined and I’m worried that I'm next. I know so many people who’ve been exposed," Zoe, an 11th grader, said.  Zoe called lunchtime at schools chaotic and said there’s no safe way for students to eat. "Right now, I’m just so scared about what’s to come in the future," she said.

WUSA9 talked to parents around the county, some while getting their children vaccinated.

Sheila Enright has two high school-aged children. She said that she is in support of in-person learning as long as it’s safe. “I wouldn’t be opposed to being virtual for a couple of weeks because then maybe we'll get past this,” she said.

Though the district has been criticized repeatedly because of the changes in COVID-19 policies, Aaron Field said he’s trusting local leaders to make the best decision.

“I really want the county to make the best decision that they can make based on the science and the medical advice that they're getting. To be honest, I'm much less knowledgeable than they are and so, I kind of trust that they'll come up with something that makes sense,” Field said. 

Right now, 11 schools in the district are in virtual learning. To avoid further confusion, the district said they will stay that way until next week. They also will be providing KN-95 masks for everyone. At-home rapid test kits will be going home with every student, teacher and staff member this week.

Parents are asked to help students administer these tests at home and to submit whether their child has tested positive or negative using the MCPS COVID-19 Reporting Form. (You may also call your child’s school if you are not able to submit the information electronically).

The school system asks parents to report all results both positive and negative when using the rapid test kits by Friday, Jan. 14. Parents should also continue to report all positive test results for students and staff that come from tests not provided by the school system. Any student who tests positive will be required to isolate for 10 days from the date of the positive test, or 10 days from the onset of symptoms, whichever is earlier.

While that message eases the concerns of some parents, another mother said parent input shouldn’t be discarded so quickly.

“In our homes, we are the experts. We’re the experts, we are the experts on what we’re comfortable with, we’re experts on what our families and young scholars need most,” she said.

MCPS says all in-person extracurricular activities will resume next Tuesday. All participants are required to complete the rapid test provided by the school and submit the result no later than Friday, Jan. 14.

To read the full statement, click here.

RELATED: Montgomery County Public Schools ditches plan to determine which schools would go virtual

RELATED: Where to get an at-home COVID test in Montgomery County starting Jan 10

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