MCPS to Begin Return to Some In-person Instruction In January 2021

Excerpts below from the Bethesda Magazine article ‘MCPS to begin returning to in-person instruction on Jan. 12 (November 6, 2020).

Montgomery County Public Schools plans to begin phasing students back into buildings for some in-person instruction in January, staff members said Friday.

MCPS began its [2020-2021] school year fully virtually in August due to the coronavirus pandemic. For months, as some parents clamor for an immediate end to online classes, the school district has been planning how and when to bring students back to schools.

During a work session on Friday [November 6, 2020], the [Montgomery County Board of Education] agreed that the district’s most at-risk students could begin to return on Jan. 12, [2021] as long as COVID-19 health metrics show it is safe.

The district would not bring back all students for at least some face-to-face classes until February [2021] at the earliest, nearly a year after buildings closed on March 16, [2020].

If the pandemic worsens, Superintendent Jack Smith said, the plans could change.

The first group, which would return Jan. 12, would include students who have struggled the most with online learning. That could include students in special education programs, English language learners and others.

Then, more students would be phased back into buildings in groups, divided by age and special programs.

  • The first group in the phased return would include kindergarten, first grade, some special education programs, sixth grade, freshmen, and students in career and technical education programs.
  • The second group would include pre-kindergarten, second grade, third grade, seventh grade and sophomores.
  • The third group would include fourth grade, fifth grade, eighth grade, juniors and seniors.

Families who opt for the hybrid model will be allowed to change to fully virtual instruction at any time. But families who initially choose virtual-only instruction will only be able to change to the hybrid model later if there is space in schools to do so.

Parents will be asked to fill out a survey to indicate whether they want their child to participate in in-person learning.

The survey will be available between Nov. 11 and Dec. 3. Responses from families will help determine which schools will be open and flesh out transportation options.