MCPS Board of Education clarifies reopening schedule, discusses plans for in-person athletics

Despite+Governor+Larry+Hogan%27s+call+for+Maryland+schools+to+reopen+for+in-person+learning+by+March+1%2C+MCPS+will+stick+to+their+previously+announced+schedule.

Christina Xiong

Despite Governor Larry Hogan’s call for Maryland schools to reopen for in-person learning by March 1, MCPS will stick to their previously announced schedule.

By Claire Lane

The Montgomery County Board of Education confirmed that MCPS will reopen for hybrid learning on March 15 and discussed plans for in-person school and athletics during a meeting held January 28.

The conference came days after Governor Larry Hogan called on schools to reopen for hybrid learning by March 1 instead of March 15, the date the Board set earlier this month. 

“We certainly listen to what our Governor says,” said MCPS superintendent Jack Smith. “We also realize that the decision to reopen schools is left to the Board, and they will provide you with information you need to know going forward.”

The Board also confirmed that MCPS has not altered the priorities for student reentries. Special education, career and technical education students may start returning to physical settings in small groups by the end of February. Other student stakeholder groups are poised to phase into in-person learning starting March 15.

To ensure a safe return to school, the Board proposed implementing hand sanitizing stations into schools, having students walk on specific paths throughout the halls and limiting classroom sizes to approximately 10 students. 

“It is important to realize that socialization is going to look very different when we are back in school,” said associate superintendent of operations Esssie McGuire. 

Later in the meeting, Director of Systemwide Athletics Jeffrey Sullivan introduced the new plan for in-person fall sports starting February 27.

“Our return to R.A.I.S.E strategic plan will guide our operations and safety protocols to provide the safest, greatest experience possible for our students, coaches, and staff members across the program,” Sullivan said. 

Sports registration opened Friday January 29 through ParentVue, an educational utility website. 

“It is important to note that this is a fluid plan,” Sullivan said.“We are expecting updated guidance in the coming weeks from the National Federation of High Schools, and our county guidelines continue to change. We will continue to update our protocols in the coming weeks.”

Smith ended the discussion by acknowledging the Board’s continued efforts to return students to their classrooms as soon as the health metrics permit such action.

“As the Board reviews all the information and we talk with our health professionals, we will keep you apprised of any new developments,” Smith said.