Montgomery County Public Schools Update COVID-19 Guidelines, Acknowledge Community Frustration

A follow-up virtual community conversation will be held Wednesday evening.

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Montgomery County Public Schools is updating its COVID-19 guidelines after multiple parents and staff expressed that its messaging has been inconsistent and confusing. 

In a community message Sunday, MCPS acknowledged frustrations and provided more information about the following efforts, among others:

  • Distribution of KN-95 masks and rapid-test kits to all students and staff
  • New isolation and quarantine procedures based on CDC guidelines
  • Clarity on when a school could switch to virtual learning 

In the message, Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight also said that she tested positive for the virus last week. 

“While the circumstances leading to these disruptions are beyond our control, we should have done a better job communicating with you about these challenges and clarifying our response. I apologize for any stress this caused our staff, students, and community members,” she said.

After a week of miscommunication and mixed messages, Montgomery County Public Schools apologized to families for the rough start to the new year. News4’s Cory Smith details the lingering challenges facing school leaders while the county tries to meet the rising demand for COVID-19 testing.

Parents, teachers and students joined a virtual community town hall meeting organized by Councilmember Tom Hucker to air their frustrations. 

Multiple participants spoke in favor of switching to virtual learning, at least temporarily, while coronavirus cases continue to surge in schools and the community.

"Over the past week it has become increasingly clear that MCPS's response to the current surge is chaotic, inconsistent and unscientific," one person said.

While most at the town hall were in favor of distance learning, one parent spoke in favor of keeping schools open safely, citing mental health concerns.

"Our kids need to be in school, they need to be learning from their teachers alongside their friends," she said.

The superintendent said the school system will continue to keep schools open, and that switching to virtual learning will only be a last resort. 

A follow-up virtual community conversation will be held Wednesday evening.

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