It is nearing the beginning of the school year for those in Montgomery County, Maryland. While other states, like Georgia, have already begun their school year, the students and staff are preparing for a year filled with uncertainty of what the entire school year will look like for MCPS.
MCPS has already mandated mask-wearing but eliminated physical distancing within the school building for the fall. However, with news of the Delta variant, there’s still a lot to consider, especially for those students who are unable to receive the vaccine at this time. MCPS will reevaluate guidelines and recommendations quarterly with the aid of local health officials.
The school system has proposed and will move forward with a Virtual Academy for those still uncomfortable with sending their children into a physical school building. The Virtual Academy is a comprehensive program designed for students who will be learning remotely. While students will continue with distance learning, they will stay connected to their home schools for extracurricular activities and needed resources.
One possibility for the future is charter schools. They may have been a possible option for families unhappy with the structure of MCPS. However, as questions about equity, face-covering mandates, and the ability to reach all students, charter schools have become a consideration for parents looking for more or for a different school structure.
Two schools submitted applications for review and approval from the Montgomery County Board of Education with hopes of opening their doors for the 2022-2023 school year.
The Washington-McLaughlin Charter School for Boys, Inc. and the Washington-McLaughin Charter School for Girls Inc. would operate as one school sharing classes and teachers but have separate courses based on gender. Unfortunately, the Washington-McLaughlin failed to demonstrate a clear understanding of the federal government rules on separate-sex schools, and as a result, the BOE turned down the application.
The M.E.C.C.A. Business Learning Institute (MBLI), a school focused on business education and financial literacy for students in middle through high school, was looked upon more favorably by MCPS staff. However, it too was rejected as board members discussed concerns about the stability of the financial funding. Although MBLI secured a bank before the BOE’s vote on July 27th, it was still unclear how MBLI would pay for itself.
The rejection of the charter schools leaves MCPS families to pursue the following options for the 2021-2022 school year:
1) full in-person learning in MCPS school buildings complete with mask mandates,
2) the new Virtual Academy with a more comprehensive distance learning model,
3)to apply to private schools and pay out of pocket.
As concerns over the Delta variant cause Montgomery County to consider a contingency plan to its current health protocols, parents and staff at MCPS continue to consider their options for the rapidly approaching school year.
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