Montgomery Co. back-to-school plan features remote learning, in-class instruction

Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) officials in Maryland announced its reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year in a letter to the community on Saturday.

The plan would have students returning in phases, by grade level, last name and school cluster once the new school year begins on Monday, Aug. 31.

Class sizes would be sharply reduced, with an aim to have all grade levels experiencing some in-person learning by the end of November.

The plan also calls for a blend of remote learning and two days a week of classroom time, with all school buildings closed on Wednesdays for deep cleaning.

“Our goal is to provide high-quality instruction and learning experiences for all MCPS students, whether in-person or virtually,” said Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith.

School bus capacity would shrink from 77 passengers to 12 passengers, which complies with CDC social distancing guidelines.

Smith said the school system — one of the region’s largest — would continue to “work diligently on plans for the fall that are focused on enhancing virtual learning and bringing back as many students as possible for in-person instruction on a consistent basis.”

Gov. Larry Hogan and State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon would “ultimately” make the decision to reopen school buildings for some or all students, according to Smith.

“We are also working closely with our local officials, who are providing additional support and guidance on what the reopening of MCPS schools could possibly look like given current health conditions in our county and state,” said Smith.

Smith’s letter stated the plan is only a draft and will continue to be amended and adjusted following feedback from parents, staff and students.

“We know all of the options we consider must be examined through the lens of equity and excellence, and ensure the health and safety of our 166,000 students and 24,000 staff members,” said Smith.

The school board meets at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, when it will discuss the “preliminary recovery plans.”

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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