MCPS forced to pivot to virtual back to school night and open houses mere days before school year begins

Heather Jauquet

MCPS make last-minute changes in light of BOE announcement

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Mandated mask wearing signHeather Jauquet/Author

The new school year begins on August 30th. Parents are adding masks and hand sanitizers to accompany the usual back-to-school supplies of pencils and notebooks. But will it be enough?

Parents and teachers are keeping a watchful eye on back-to-school activities for students. For example, MCPS planned their Back to School Jam to reach parents, answer questions, and provide vaccination clinics. However, intended as an indoor activity, MCPS received criticism and moved their function outdoors, requiring mask wearing for any indoor activity.

In light of a recent outbreak on the Quince Orchard football team where 26 students were tested positive for COVID schools are finding the pause button for activities and making different plans. As the delta variant spreads across Maryland, Montgomery County Public Schools once again pivots their Back to Schoo Night and Open House plans.

In an abundance of caution, MCPS determined that school-wide events should be held virtually or outdoors to ensure the comfort and safety of everyone. The announcement came at the 11th hour as teachers and staff prepared schools and classrooms ready to greet families before the beginning of the year. Once again, school staff had to shift their plans and expectations for the coming days.

What does it mean?

It means that plans can change quickly, but it might not be easy.

It means that any school events where parents were invited to visit their child’s school before the beginning of the school year have either been canceled, turned into an outdoor event, or held virtually.

MCPS is still holding a mini day for middle and high school students on Thursday, August 26th, to give them a chance to take the bus, receive their schedules, practice opening their lockers, and finding their way around the school. So if you have a rising 6th, 7th, 9th, or 10th grader, or have a student new to an MCPS middle or high school, this is a day designed for them.

Parents will not be able to attend the mini day with their children, but students will get an idea of their school day.

Elementary schools will change their “Sneak Peek” days where students have traditionally visited their classrooms and met their teachers.

One Gaithersburg school pivoted quickly and is making the meet and greet an outdoor event. So while students will not be able to visit their class, they will meet their teachers and school administration.

It appears that teachers and families will have to constantly be on their toes and be ready to shift plans and expectations as COVID data continues to move and climb.

There are no easy answers. The Board of Education and MCPS are making decisions based on ever-evolving COVID data.

Montgomery County is still in the substantial transmission range at 90.61 cases per 100,000 and making its way towards a high transmission rate.

How can you keep up with the changes?

Stay in touch with your school newsletters and your PTA. Sometimes schools get the news of changes just ahead of parents. They will have the answers and can help you navigate the 2021-2022 school year.

Contact your child's school if you are unsure if your child has a meet and greet or a mini day orientation. School staff know that these changes are coming quickly and will be happy to help. Please remember to grant them grace as they find the answers for you. Things are moving just as quickly for them, too.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

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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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