School Notes: MCPS expands free meal distribution to provide three meals on Fridays

School Notes: MCPS expands free meal distribution to provide three meals on Fridays

Plus: School board delays full planning for next academic year calendar; Board to meet Tuesday

| Published:

MCPS expands free meal distribution to provide three meals on Fridays

Montgomery County Public Schools announced on Thursday that it will provide three free meals to families who attend meal distribution sites on Fridays to “address food insecurity for MCPS students over the weekend.”

MCPS provides free meals to students and children in Montgomery County at 74 sites each weekday, except Thursdays. The district provides two meals to each student on Wednesdays because meal sites are closed on Thursdays.

Now, beginning Friday, MCPS will provide three meals to each student on Fridays to provide some food for the weekend.

Meals are distributed between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

When picking up meals, students will be asked for their name, but they will not need to provide their student identification number.

MCPS has provided more than 4 million free meals to students since the COVID-19 pandemic closed school buildings in mid-March.

School board delays full planning for next academic year calendar

A school board committee this week voted to temporarily suspend a district policy that mandates the next academic year’s calendar be finalized by December.

Citing uncertainty amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the committee members said it is unrealistic to develop a calendar for the 2021-22 academic year, and suspended the policy to allow the process to stretch longer.

MCPS Associate Superintendent of Operations Essie McGuire said the school district is seeking guidance from the state about “contingency and snow make-up days, and how to reflect the virtual nature of an instructional model in the context of hour and day requirements.”

“Given the number of factors still underway this year, we recommend deferring consideration of next year’s calendar until some of these pieces settle and we know more clearly what steps are in front of us, both for this year and next year,” McGuire said. “We’ll come back to it when it seems appropriate to turn our attention back to this matter.”

State law requires school districts to provide 180 days of instruction to students each academic year. At a recent school board meeting, MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith said that because the district has provided technology to students and staff members, he “never want(s) to see” a snow day again.

He said the district should be able to avoid snow days when buildings reopen by pivoting to online classes when there is inclement weather.
This year, MCPS began the academic year before Labor Day for the first time in four years.

The school district’s decision to start the year before Labor Day was possible because of new legislation overturning Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order of 2016 that required schools across the state to return from summer break after the holiday.

School board to meet Tuesday

The Montgomery County Board of Education will meet on Tuesday and receive an update about remote learning and the school district’s reopening plan.

The public session of the meeting is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.
There are no other major topics on the agenda. Documents with more details about the reopening discussion were not posted as of Thursday afternoon.

MCPS began the 2020-21 academic year remotely on Aug. 31. The most recent reopening plan says school buildings will remain closed through the first semester, which ends in late January.

MCPS, however, has said it is considering allowing small groups of students into buildings before then. Students in special education programs and English language learners would likely be prioritized.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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