✅MCPS/Blair/Local/State/Federal: Ongoing Updates, Efforts, Information & Services Regarding & Related to COVID-19


LATEST UPDATE/INFORMATION POSTED: October 16, 2020

Below is information from Montgomery County Public Schools, Blair High School and local, state and federal resources (e.g., Montgomery County, State of Maryland, Centers for Disease Control, non-governmental organizations, newspapers and universities) regarding/pertaining to COVID-19 (coronavirus pandemic). Updates and announcements will be posted as soon as possible.

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1️⃣ Maryland Governor Hogan: state updates, news, mandates and guidelines regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Background re Maryland School Closings due to conronavirus pandemic: On March 12, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon announced that all Maryland schools must close in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Accordingly, MCPS schools were closed starting March 16, 2020 until March 27, 2020. On March 25, 2020, Dr. Salmon announced that Maryland Schools (which includes MCPS) will continue to be closed through Friday, April 24, 2020. On May 6, 2020, Dr. Salmon announced that MCPS schools and buildings will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.

2️⃣ Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) information about COVID-19 and MCPS’ educational & scheduling efforts during the pandemic

  • August 6, 2020 – MCPS will present the updated Fall 2020: Reimagine, Reopen, Recover plan to the Montgomery County Board of Education.  The Board will discuss and take action on the plan which provides an overview of our virtual-only learning model for the first semester. We encourage you to tune in to this important conversation. The meeting, which will begin at 3:30 p.m., will be streamed live on the MCPS website and on MCPS TV (Comcast 34, Verizon 36, RCN 89). If you are unable to tune in live, a recording of the meeting will be posted on YouTube and on the MCPS website. We also will host three virtual conversations for the community—August 12 for parents and staff and August 13 for students. A live virtual conversation in Spanish about the updated recovery guide will be held on August 18. Details on the virtual conversations will be posted on the MCPS website and shared with families in the coming days.
  • May 6, 2020 – IMPORTANT UPDATE (Maryland schools will remain closed through the rest of the school year): “Today (May 6), Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced that Maryland public schools will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. We strongly believe this is the right decision for the safety and well-being of Maryland students and their families. While this news is not unexpected, it doesn’t diminish the sadness and disappointment that many of us are feeling because we won’t be together in schools to learn and work together; participate in athletic and arts events; and attend end-of-the-year celebrations and graduations.”
  • May 3, 2020 – Community Update: Information on the grading criteria for the 4th Marking Period and the district’s plan for monitoring student engagement during this time of remote learning.
  • April 15, 2020 – New MCPS Meal Service Schedule and Instructional Materials for Students: “Beginning April 20, 2020, MCPS will adjust its meal service program from operating five days a week to a four-day-per-week schedule. This adjustment is being made in an effort to ensure student and staff safety, and to reduce opportunities for the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Meal sites will operate as normal on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, MCPS will provide two days’ worth of meals. On Thursdays, all meal sites will be closed. Meals will be provided from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Additionally, MCPS will distribute printed instructional materials at meal sites every Wednesday beginning April 22, 2020. These packets will provide mathematics and literacy content for elementary and secondary students.”
  • April 9, 2020 – Community Update : Update from Superintendent Jack Smith. The message includes information about what to expect for week 3 of online learning, and additional wellness resources for the entire family. 
  • April 3, 2020 – Nationwide Zoom Outage : “Due to a spike in usage nationwide, the web conferencing platform Zoom is currently experiencing an unexpected partial outage nationwide. This affects the ability to join “via web browser,” which is what most students and staff use when connecting with a Chromebook. When attempting to log in and join a Zoom Web Conference, an error message appears. The error states “403 Forbidden.”  To address this, MCPS has automatically pushed the Zoom app to all student accounts. This app will show up on students’ accounts automatically. It does not require the student to install anything if they are on their Chromebooks or if they are using the Chrome browser with their MCPS-supplied Google account. If students are using a personal device such as a PC, MacBook or an iPad, they may be prompted to install the Zoom app when attempting to connect to a meeting. After doing so, they will be allowed to join the Zoom web conference. “MCPS is updating support materials that will help parents, students and staff with any issues that may come up as they engage in online learning using our myMCPS and Google Classroom platforms. This information will be shared with the community in the coming days.” 
  • March 30, 2020 – Update on MCPS Meal Distribution Service: “Today, Monday, March 30, Governor Larry Hogan issued a Stay-at-Home Order to combat the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). While the order prohibits Maryland residents from making trips considered non-essential (see the Executive Order), it does allow community members to continue to travel to our schools to pick up meals and instructional resources for online learning. Meal service will continue as scheduled this week at multiple sites. Additionally, MCPS will continue to provide supports and services to address the social-emotional, psychological and physical well-being of our students and staff
  • March 29, 2020 – Important Reminder for MCPS Families: “[Monday, March 30, 2020] we will launch the first phase of our remote learning plan while our school buildings are closed. During this first week, students and families will have the opportunity to: 1) Reconnect with their teachers; 2) Take online tutorials to learn how to use technology platforms like myMCPS Classroom and Google Classroom; 3) Develop a schedule that outlines when each student in the home will engage in their lessons; and 4) Begin completing the end of the third marking period assignments. Details about what to expect this first week, as well as the most up-to-date meal site information, is available at www.MontgomerySchoolsMD.org.”
  • March 27, 2020 – Continuity of Learning in MCPS: Getting Started: “On Monday, March 30, we are launching the first phase of our online learning plan. While our school buildings remain closed until April 24, our staff has been working hard for weeks to develop continuity of learning (remote/distance learning) plans that address the academic and non-academic needs of our students.”
  • March 27, 2020 – Important Update for Parents/Guardians of Students with Individualized Education Programs or Section 504 Plans: “On March 22, 2020, Superintendent Jack Smith announced that beginning on March 30, 2020, MCPS will launch the first phase of a continuity of learning (distance/remote learning) system so that all students can begin to have structured school experiences. Monday, March 30 will be the first day our teachers and 10-month support staff members will be back at work. They are excited and eager to reconnect with their students. We know that families of students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) have many questions. Throughout the last few weeks, the Office of Special Education, the Resolution and Compliance Unit, and the Office of the General Counsel have been collaborating with local and state education agencies to determine a thoughtful, measured approach to implement the continuity of learning.
  • March 25, 2020 – Changes to the School Calendar and Information on Phase One of Remote Learning in MCPS (message from MCPS Superintendent): “As we shared earlier today in our community message, Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent Karen Salmon have extended the closure of all Maryland public schools through April 24, 2020. In addition to our school buildings being closed until April 24, all extracurricular programs, athletic programs and community use activities are canceled. The district will continue to provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner meals to all children at more than 40 sites throughout the county. Details on times and locations can be found on the MCPS Coronavirus webpage. This is an incredibly difficult time for our community and we want you to know that we also will continue to provide supports and services to address the social-emotional, psychological and physical well-being of our students. These resources can be found here.  As a reminder, MCPS will begin laptop (Chromebooks) distribution tomorrow, Thursday, March 26. Details are here.”
  • March 22, 2020 – MCPS Meal Distribution Service Expanded: MCPS is providing free breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for children 18 years old and younger, and all MCPS students (regardless of age) at more than 40 sites (including mobile locations) throughout the county. Additionally, MCPS school buses will distribute meals in several communities. MCPS is collaborating with Manna Food to distribute weekend backpack food sacks throughout the county. Distribution will take place on Fridays (locations TBD). Please visit https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/coronavirus/#emergencymeals to see the most up-to-date list of meal sites.
  • MCPS ‘Coronavirus’ Webpage: Features up-to-date information from county, state and federal health officials (e.g. messages to the community, press releases, etc.), links to important resources in multiple languages, tips for how to speak with your children about the coronavirus, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The FAQs provide additional information on important topics such as school field trips, plans for instruction and how parents can help.
  • COVID-19 Preparedness: Documents from March 3, 2020 presentation made to the Montgomery County Council by Dr. Travis Gayles, Health Officer and Chief of Public Health Services and Dr. Earl Stoddard, Director, Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security – both employed by the government of Montgomery County Maryland.

3️⃣ Messages from Montgomery Blair High School

  • May 19, 2020: The Silverlogue Yearbook website has been updated to include information on purchasing, donations, distribution, and a new feature that allows students to virtually “sign” each others’ yearbooks.  This feature is free to all students, regardless of whether they have purchased a yearbook. This information can be found at https://silverlogue.wordpress.com. Please email Yearbook Adviser Dana Simel at dana_simel@mcpsmd.org if you have further questions. 

4️⃣ Maryland, Montgomery County & Other Local COVID-19 News & Information

  • State & Local COVID-19 InfoMaryland Healthcare Enrollment Has Re-Opened – An emergency special enrollment is now open through April 15, 2020 for uninsured Marylanders. The online application is available daily from 6 am to 11 pm: https://www.marylandhealthconnection.gov
  • Montgomery County COVID-19 Testing Info – If you think you are ill and need medical care, you should seek medical attention. Call ahead before going so the provider can take precautions when you arrive. Testing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) change frequently. Please visit their site for updates on their guidance about who should be tested: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html. Your physician or health care provider will assess your symptoms and determine if diagnostic testing for the COVID-19 virus is appropriate. If your health care provider suspects COVID-19, THEY will coordinate testing with a commercial lab or the State’s public health laboratory. While some commercial labs have the ability to analyze and report results to the patient or provider who ordered testing, the labs currently only perform the analysis and DO NOT collect specimens directly from patients. If you would like to speak with a nurse please call 240-777-1755.   
  • Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Legislation – The Governor signed emergency legislation on March 19, 2020 that includes: 1) No Fees or Co-pays for COVID-19 Tests: Ensuring that Marylanders will not be charged fees or co-pays for COVID-19 tests; 2) No Price-Gouging: Prohibits price-gouging for food, fuel, medicine, cleaning products and other essential supplies; 3) Workers Cannot be Terminated: Guarantees that Marylanders cannot be terminated from their jobs because they have been isolated or quarantined; and 4) Unemployment Benefits: Will allow the Secretary of Labor to extend unemployment benefits to workers who cannot work because they are quarantined, at risk for exposure, or to care for a family member with COVID-19.

5️⃣ Coronavirus: ‘What you need to read’ (The Washington Post)

The Washington Post is providing some coronavirus coverage free, including:

6️⃣ Coronavirus Resource Center (Johns Hopkins University)

Johns Hopkins experts in global public health, infectious disease, and emergency preparedness have been at the forefront of the international response to COVID-19. This website is a resource to help advance the understanding of the virus, inform the public, and brief policymakers in order to guide a response, improve care, and save lives. Website includes daily global tracking of confirmed cases via an interactive map; information about the virus; advice re social distancing and how to stay safe and prevent the spread of the virus.

7️⃣ World Health Organization (WHO) Coronavirus Information

WHO’s coronavirus disease website includes information, research, reports and updates (regional and global) about the COVID-19 pandemic.

8️⃣ Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 Information

The CDC’s coronavirus website includes information such as how to protect yourself; list of symptoms; preparing your family and resources and guidelines for communities, organizations and health professionals. Includes FAQs regarding coronavirus terminology, the source of the disease, how it spreads, etc.