Montgomery County Public Schools to start year virtual-only

Montgomery County Public Schools will start the school year with virtual-only learning for the first semester, the superintendent announced Tuesday.

The first semester is through Jan. 29, 2021; the school system will reassess the plan in November for the second semester, starting Feb. 1, 2021.

This means all fall and winter sports will be canceled, said Superintendent Jack Smith in a message to the community.

The superintendent cited guidance from county Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles, who said Monday that he wouldn’t recommend in-person instruction for students at this time based on current data.

“We anticipate that Governor Larry Hogan and Dr. Karen Salmon, state superintendent of schools, will also provide an update on the state’s recovery plan for schools this week. We will review their guidance and make all necessary adjustments to align our plans,” Smith said.

He added that the school system is looking to allow school buildings to stay open in a limited capacity “for essential purposes, including meal service; to support access to technology and other materials; and for use by some child care providers.”

An earlier back-to-school draft plan included having students return to classes in phases, by grade level, last name and school cluster. It involved a hybrid model, with some distance learning along with in-person classes.

A teachers union just last Friday expressed skepticism with the school system’s earlier plan, especially around face mask use and sanitation of school buildings.

The updated plan will be given to the school board on Aug. 6, which is when the board will vote.

In a letter announcing the cancellation of fall and winter sports, Jeffrey Sullivan, director of systemwide athletics, wrote, “While we are deeply saddened by the cancellation of interscholastic athletics during this time, we know that the number one priority for everyone is the health and safety of our students and staff.”

Montgomery County Public Schools is Maryland’s largest school system, with more than 165,000 students and 208 schools.

The school year begins Aug. 31.

More Coronavirus News

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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