When Montgomery County Public Schools reopens its buildings, it will largely welcome back students from communities that have not been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the winter, when MCPS planned to reopen schools in February, it surveyed families across the county. The survey asked families to commit to either part-time in-person classes for students or continuing classes completely online for the remainder of the academic year.
In December, MCPS unveiled high-level results showing that about 60% of students’ families chose to continue with fully virtual classes. The data showed that white students and students who attend schools with lower rates of poverty were more likely to return to buildings.
The district did not, however, provide school-by-school data.
In January, the school board voted to delay its reopening plan until March.
The full survey results, obtained by Bethesda Beat through a Maryland Public Information Act request, show that the 11 schools with the highest percentage of students who will return to buildings when they reopen are in Bethesda or Chevy Chase — at schools with larger populations of white students and lower rates of students in poverty.
Bethesda and Chevy Chase have not been hit as hard by the pandemic than other areas of the county, like Silver Spring and Gaithersburg, where the case rate per 100,000 people is about four times as high as the Bethesda area.
On average, schools expect about 40% of their students to return to buildings when they reopen, but there is a range from about 20% up to nearly 90%, depending on the area.
In its response to Bethesda Beat’s public records request, MCPS wrote that the demographic information about respondents’ answers was not “readily available.”
Data provided show that about one-fifth of MCPS students’ families did not respond to the survey. Students who did not respond were automatically enrolled in all-virtual classes.
Schools in the Bethesda area generally had the lowest percentage of families who did not respond to the survey. Schools in the Gaithersburg, Silver Spring and Germantown areas often had the highest rates of missing responses.
At 21 schools, more than 35% of the families who did not respond. Forty-four schools had less than 10% of families who did not respond.
There are 208 schools in MCPS.
In the interactive maps below, all percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number. The data detailing the number of students who chose in-person or all-virtual classes were obtained from MCPS through a public records request.
Data about schools’ demographics are from MCPS’ official enrollment report for the 2020-21 academic year. Special program schools are not included because MCPS provided incomplete data.
Data about the COVID-19 case rates per 100,000 people are from the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, and current as of Feb. 4.
To view school-specific data, click on a section of the map, and scroll through the area’s schools. A legend is available by clicking on the arrows in the top-left corner of the map.
Percentage of students returning to buildings (all schools):
Montgomery County COVID-19 case rates per 100,000 people: