Montgomery Co. schools hold off in-person learning until at least February

Public school students in Montgomery County, Maryland, could return to classrooms on Feb. 1 if health metrics meet key benchmarks.

The Montgomery County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to delay the start of in-person learning until the start of the second semester.

The school board had given tentative approval to a phased return starting in January. However, they elected to delay a vote on those plans as COVID-19 cases around the area increased.

For students to return to a physical school building, the 14-day test positivity rate must be no higher than 5%, and the case rate must be below 15 cases per 100,000 residents. Superintendent Jack Smith said the current framework would “accelerate” the return of more students back into a school building.

While board member Patricia O’Neill joined the unanimous vote, she said the county is on an upward trajectory in COVID-19 cases from the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It is highly unlikely we are going to suddenly turn that corner between now and January 12th,” O’Neill said.

The board will meet again Jan. 12 to decide if a phased return would be possible, based on the status of the pandemic at that date.

If metrics are met, the first set of students who would be allowed to return are in special education, career and technical education, and kindergarten through third grades.

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.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

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