Montgomery Co. plans for ‘regular school year’ in the fall

Many parents in Montgomery County will be happy to learn that Maryland’s largest school system is planning to return to a normal schedule in the fall for the 2021-2022 school year.

According to Superintendent Jack Smith, the plan is to have in-person classes five days a week.

“We as a staff are going to move forward in the coming months to prepare for the fall,” said Smith at a Montgomery County Board of Education meeting Thursday. “We think it make sense to start from the perspective of planning for a much more regular school year.”

Everyone will likely still wear masks and follow cleaning and hand washing protocols, Smith said.

“One of the biggest areas that we have to address will be the physical distancing,” said Smith, who added that he believed health guidance related to how much separation there should be between students was still too vague.

While the schedule may return to normal, virtual learning will still be an option for families with concerns about the coronavirus.

That is no small task for the school system of more than 160,500 students

“If we only have 5% of the students in this system that need or want a virtual program in the fall, that’s more than 8,000 students,” said Smith.

The board is still working out details for the next calendar year, considering whether to start the year before or after Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 6.

One option would have classes start Aug. 30, 2021 and end June 14, 2022.

The option starting after Labor Day would have classes begin Sept. 8, 2021 and end June 21, 2022.

For this current year, the school system is preparing for its first big day of returning students to in-person classes, bringing back thousands of children in kindergarten through third grade on Monday.

Most grades are set to return in April.

The board is still considering whether to move the return date back two days — from April 6 to April 8 — for students in prekindergarten and grades four, five, six and 12. The thinking is, it would give the school system time to examine whether potential spring break travel impacted the spread of the coronavirus.

Board members urged families not to travel for spring break.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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