Planning to Travel During Spring Break? Do Your Part for a Healthy Comeback to Schools in Montgomery County

Heather Jauquet

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Montgomery County Public Schools will be on Spring Break March 29, 2021 through April 5, 2021. Many have spring break plans, but what does that mean for the return to schools?

MCPS has chosen to open school buildings on March 15, 2021 and as of now there are more than 14 schools with positive COVID cases. With everyone going on spring break, what can you do to help students have a healthy comeback to schools?

If you plan to go away, continue wearing your masks and physical distancing. I know that we are all excited that vaccinations are available, the weather is warmer, and we are excited to see family and friends whom we haven’t seen in more than a year. While adults can be vaccinated, remember children, as of yet, cannot be vaccinated. Encourage them to wear their masks when interacting with family and friends.

Congregate outside as much as possible. Outside is much better for seeing friends than doing it inside.

Students in Phase 2 were initially going to be invited back to in-person learning on April 6, 2021, but knowing that many families already have plans, MCPS moved Phase 1.2 (Special education, Grades 4, 5, and 6, and prekindergarten) to April 8, 2021. They did this in accordance of Maryland’s Department of Health’s directives. April 6th and April 7th will remain virtual learning days for Phase 1.2. It can get confusing. There are four phases and they are all different dates.

“Montgomery County Public Schools is asking students who choose to travel outside of Maryland its adjacent jurisdictions (Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Washington, D.C.) to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of returning and self-quarantining while awaiting results.” —MCPS Website

While students are self-quarantining, they can keep their in-student status while attending virtual instruction. When they receive the all clear to return to class, they can go back into the building.

In addition to requesting traveling students to take a COVID-19 test and quartering, MCPS is also sending out a weekly MCPS Attestation Form. Every student returning to the building each week is asked to fill out a health questionnaire in order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in schools. Every single student must have the form filled out before re-entering the building. I have four kids so that means I have to fill out 4 attestation forms (one for each of them) when they return full time to the building.

The questions ask 1) if a student has developed any symptoms, 2) if anyone in the student’s household is waiting for a COVID-19 test result, been diagnosed with COVID-19, or been instructed by health professional to quarantine, and 3) in the last 14 ays has the student had close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspected of having COVID-19? (Close contact is defined as within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes).

If you know you’re traveling, it would be prudent to stay on the safe side and keep your child home from school. They can absolutely still access learning by participating in virtual learning.

As of right now, there are 14 Montgomery County Schools who have reported a positive COVID case. Unfortunately, the number of cases in schools is growing. With spring break around the corner, it will give a chance to thoroughly sanitize buildings and for those with symptoms to stay home until they get a clean bill of health from a health professional.

If we all do our part by wearing our masks, staying apart, getting the vaccine, and staying home with symptoms, the sooner we will be able to we will be able to gather again. And the sooner our children will be able to attend school safely.

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.

MD
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