BOE cites staffing shortages
Traditionally, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) holds classes the day before Thanksgiving. However, with 13 days notice, the Montgomery County Board of Education unanimously voted to cancel classes and close offices the day before Thanksgiving.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight cited lower attendance rates before the holiday and the national shortage of substitute teachers in her proposal to cancel classes before Thanksgiving. As a result, the Board of Education unanimously voted to cancel classes and close offices on Wednesday, November 24th.
“Given the context of now this year, presenting a challenge that we do need to operate, but we need to operate with things in place to support students successfully, we believe that it cannot happen before Thanksgiving”—Dr. Monifa McKnight, Board of Education meeting
Quite simply, the school system does not have enough substitutes to cover the staff absences the day before the holiday. Currently, paraeducators and teachers within school buildings have been using their planning periods or non-teaching time to cover the staff absences within their buildings. Many do not have time to plan their instruction as they cover classes for their colleagues.
MCPS has built into their 2021-20222 school calendar 182 days of instruction. By using one of two extra days built into the school calendar, the extra day will not have to be made up.
During public comments, one parent took a moment to chastise the Board of Education for not taking into consideration of parents who “…count on the published calendar” and for giving parents only 13 days notice to make childcare arrangements.
MyMCM reported on November 8, 2021 that MCPS still needs 161 teachers, 117 bus drivers, 11 lunch and recess assistants, and 116 paraeducators to reach its full staffing complement.
Montgomery County Recreation is patterning with MCPS to provide full-day or half-day Kids Day Out activities. Kids Day Out is “…organized out of school time fun, with well-planned and supervised activities.”
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has gathered in-person, live, and on-demand opportunities from external organizations available to students. The activities are not affiliated with MCPS, and interested families need to contact the organizations directly.
How does closing school and offices the day before Thanksgiving affect you? Should MCPS close the day before Thanksgiving? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Heather Jauquet has a Masters degree as a Reading Specialist from Johns Hopkins University. She holds a highly qualified certification to teach grades 1-8 and specialized reading instruction for grades K-12.