Montgomery County Public Schools will offer 100% virtual learning through the first semester of the upcoming school year, which includes canceling all fall and winter sports.
The decision follows new guidance from County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles, Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith wrote in a letter parents, students and staff Tuesday.
The district will assess in November whether to reopen for the second semester, beginning Feb. 1.
MCPS announced last week the school year will begin Aug. 31.
The district is building on what it learned about virtual learning in the spring and providing additional development to its staff, Smith said in his letter. The district is also making sure all students have access to the internet and devices needed for virtual learning while streaming digital tools used for later to make it easier for students to engage.
School Reopening Plans
School reopening plans in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington
Health concerns will guide the decision whether to reopen public schools.
The Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations is hearing opposing opinions about reopening schools.
Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia
COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia
“On one side, we have parents who want to insure that their students have a rigorous educational experience believing that in person is going to be much more rigorous than online,” MCCPTA President Cynthia Simonson said last week. “On the other hand, you have the safety concerns and that not exposing students and teachers to the risks is really the paramount concern at this point.”
Asked what the acceptable level of risk of infection is for reopening, Smith said there is no answer to that question.
The plan for reopening Montgomery County Public Schools has to be approved by the Maryland Department of Education by mid-August.