Montgomery County plans to introduce in-person learning in second semester

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Montgomery County Public Schools

Montgomery County’s plans for phasing in in-person learning.

By Zoe Cantor

MCPS announced its framework for a safe return to in-person learning on November 6, aiming to phase students back into schools starting January 12.

Students in special education and Career and Technology Education programs will be integrated into an in-person learning environment first. If coronavirus cases continue to stay below five percent of the Montgomery County population, more of the student body will be phased in during the beginning of the second semester.

“We can all agree that we all wish we were back in the building learning and interacting with one another,” said Assistant Principal Joseph Msefya. “This pandemic and distance learning are posing unique challenges that require the collective effort from students, families and school staff to address.” 

MCPS has laid out the COVID-19 safety guidelines, and county education officials are training staff and administrators to prepare for the transition. 

To minimize health risks, MCPS will limit capacity in schools, perform health screenings and temperature checks, require students and staff to wear face coverings, and provide constant easy access to sanitation and enforce social distancing.

“I trust that MCPS officials are closely monitoring the health metrics and making real-time evidence-based decisions,” Msefya said. “We continue to prioritize the safety and health of students and staff.

Families will be able to choose between in-person, hybrid or virtual learning for the second semester. Students who remain in online schooling will continue the current learning structure.

“I think in-person learning resuming will be really great if done safely,” sophomore Justin Yang said. “MCPS needs to focus on not letting disadvantaged people fall behind through online school.”

The county’s plan follows CDC and state guidelines to keep students and faculty uninfected. If coronavirus positivity rates were to increase, however, MCPS would revert back to virtual learning until it is safe to resume in-person classes.

“I want to go back but I’m skeptical,” senior Ela Shroff said. “Other schools have reopened and students got infected. Cases in Maryland are going up; I’d be surprised if they open school in February.”