Montgomery Co. schools, unions work toward reopening

A return to in-person learning is being discussed in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Montgomery County Public Schools employees received a letter Friday stating that the heads of the school system and the labor unions representing teachers and staff are exploring ways to reopen classrooms safely.

Citing “mutual interest” toward developing a “comprehensive plan for the eventual return to in-person instruction,” the letter said MCPS formally provided unions “the minimum 45-day notice required” by agreements to “legally honor and preserve timelines.”

But the letter stated, “this does not mean that in-person instruction will begin in 45 days.”

“Instead, it means that we can reopen impact bargaining and do more in-depth collaborative planning for the eventual return to instruction in buildings,” the letter read.

Fall school plans for DC, Maryland, Virginia systems during coronavirus

The letter, signed by Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith, Christine Handy, president of the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP) and the Montgomery County Business and Operations Administrators (MCBOA), Christopher Lloyd, president of the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) and Pia Morrison, president of SEIU Local 500, said they “have been working together over the last several weeks to begin exploring strategies for an in-person return.”

The letter does not say when classrooms will reopen, but it provides the unions a timeline for planning that would carry through until at least the second week of November.

“We know that this news may cause apprehension for some people,” the letter stated.

The letter said that “the safety of our students and staff is the top priority for us” and the school system, along with county health officials, are “all closely following state and local health metrics to guide our timing for a phased-in return.”

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.

On Thursday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan restated his position on bringing students back to in-person learning even though each district will make their own decision. 

“All 24 of our public school jurisdictions have now made the decision and submitted plans, which were approved yesterday by the Maryland State Department of Education, to at least begin bringing some students back safely into schools,” Hogan said. 

In the plan submitted by Montgomery County, the aim was for a return sometime next year.

Maryland school systems will have the option to decide if they would like to reintroduce fall sports starting Oct. 7, Hogan and the state’s superintendent of schools said Thursday.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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