Categorized MCPS red schools move to virtual learning on the first day after winter break

Heather Jauquet

11 schools move to virtual instruction in response to the number of positive cases

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Young student looks at computer screen for virtual learningThomas Park/Unsplash

Throughout the winter break, Montgomery County Public Schools has been monitoring the reports of positive cases among its students and staff. As of 6 am on Monday, January 3, the school system reported 5,680 positive cases for COVID-19, including a rise of 4,677 reported cases over the last five days of winter break.

Acknowledging one size does not fit all, MCPS divides schools into categories

While the school system panned for all schools to return to a complete in-person instruction, they had to change plans as COVID-19 cases are rising in Montgomery County. The realization that a "one size does not fit all" approach to addressing the effects of positive cases within a school community has caused MCPS and its communities to pivot its expectations once again.

Schools are now given a designation based on reports of positive COVID-19 cases and categorized as green, yellow, or red. The categories will identify whether individual schools are below the 5% threshold of the population of students and staff testing positive for COVID-19 in a 14-day period.

  • Green school report under 3% of positive cases
  • Yellow schools report over 3% but under a 5% positivity rate.
  • Red schools have a 5%+ positivity rate.

Interim Superintendent, Monifa B. McKnight, said it would not be an automatic decision or guarantee that schools will move to virtual instruction. Instead, MCPS will decide on a school-by-school basis in conjunction with guidance from the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services of a school's transition to 14 calendar days of virtual learning.

Schools to move to virtual learning

Starting January 5, the following 11 Montgomery County Public Schools will be the first to transition to 14 calendar days of virtual learning:

  • Rock Terrace School
  • Cannon Road Elementary School
  • North Chevy Chase Elementary School
  • Hallie Wells Middle school
  • Monocacy Elementary School
  • Roberto Clemente Middle School
  • Forest Knolls Elementary School
  • Waters Landing Elementary School
  • Rosemont Elementary School
  • Seneca Valley High School
  • Sherwood Elementary School

Families who attend one of the 11 “red” schools will hear from their respective schools about their next steps and plans for their move to virtual instruction. January 5 will be an asynchronous independent learning day.

MCPS will monitor each of their 209 schools' positive cases reports daily. In addition, if your student has tested positive for the virus, MCPS is asking families to report the cases using the link at the top of the MCPS homepage. Check this LINK to see if your school falls in the red, yellow, or green category.

Students who attend a green or yellow designated school but still need to quarantine based on COVID-19 status are instructed to contact their respective schools for learning opportunities until they can safely return to their schools.

Parents and staff share their concerns about MCPS’s reliance on self-reporting, afraid that families will underreport so that their school does not move to virtual learning.

What do you think about how MCPS is handling the rise of positive cases in the schools? Is your child attending a red school? What do you think about the move to virtual instruction? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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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.

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