2021 | Schools

Wednesdays to remain all-virtual for MCPS students for rest of academic year

Quarantine requirements after COVID-19 exposure, positive test cut from 14 to 10 days

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Montgomery County Public Schools students will continue working remotely on Wednesdays for the last seven weeks of the academic year.

When MCPS began reopening its buildings in March, it kept Wednesdays as an all-virtual day for all students. The rationale, school district leaders have said, was to clean buildings, provide teachers with planning and training time, and make time for special education meetings and therapies.

At a meeting on April 20, several school board members asked MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith to consider switching the virtual Wednesdays to allow for in-person classes.

In a message to community members on Thursday night, MCPS wrote that Smith “determined that Wednesdays will remain virtual due to the significant impact” changes would have.

At the same meeting in April, the school board decided to continue with a weekly rotation for in-person classes, despite pleas from some families to allow all children to attend face-to-face classes every week.

The request coincided with another asking MCPS to cut physical distancing requirements in classrooms from 6 feet to 3 feet, which the school board also did not change.

While acknowledging the struggles of virtual classes and expressing a desire to cut down the wait list, Smith said the “disruption” caused by changing the schedule “is too great.”

He and other MCPS administrators said adjusting the schedule to let all students enrolled in face-to-face classes go to schools each week would mean student schedules would often have to be changed. Also, more staff members would be needed to supervise lunch, recess and dismissal.

Some school board members pushed back, but none requested a vote to change the schedule.

In MCPS’ community message on Thursday, the district said it has updated its guidelines for quarantine after an exposure to COVID-19 or a positive test.

Previously, students and employees were required to quarantine for 14 days. It is now 10 days, according to the message.

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