MCPS Begins 2021-2022 School Year With In-Person Instruction Five Days a Week, Virtual Academy for 3,000 Students

August 30, 2021

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) welcomes nearly 160,000 students today (Aug. 30) for the start of the 2021–2022 school year. MCPS is beginning the school year fully in-person, five days a week and implementing an online Virtual Academy for registered students in grades K through 12. The 2021-2022 Reopening Guide, released on August 13, outlines the precautions in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as  what to expect for curriculum, grading, attendance, assessments and student engagement. 

MCPS is welcoming more than 874 new teachers, more than 671 new supporting services professionals and 31 new administrators this school year. 

“The start of a new school year is an exciting time, and this year is no different,” said Interim Superintendent Monifa B. McKnight. “We are thrilled to welcome students and staff back in schools, with all our safety protocols in place. We are looking forward to a wonderful year.” 

As schools reopen, the safety of students and staff remains the top priority of MCPS. MCPS continues to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In accordance with CDC guidance, MCPS is implementing a multi-layer health and safety protocol that includes multiple strategies to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and protect school community members. Strategies include use of masks, enhanced sanitation, mandated vaccinations for staff or participation in weekly testing, improved ventilation, and processes for testing, contact tracing and quarantine, as necessary. 

Learn more about health and safety measures and additional details on the district’s reopening plans: .

“The Board of Education has welcomed input from so many families and employees, and we’ve worked hard to provide the resources needed to make this a great year,” said Brenda Wolff, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “We are looking forward to a year of recovery and growth. When students walk through our doors, the Board and school system are focused on providing every student what they need to prepare them for success in their futures.”

Contingency Planning

While the top priority is providing in-person instruction five days a week, MCPS is engaged in ongoing contingency planning to address potential COVID-related issues that may arise throughout the school year.

If a student/group of students need to quarantine or are in isolation as a result of direct exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, MCPS will strive to minimize disruption to student learning during a quarantine period by having systems in place for students to receive virtual instructional support. For example: At the elementary level, individual students in isolation or quarantine will receive live, virtual instruction from a teacher on a separate schedule from their peers; if an entire class is in quarantine, the teacher will provide virtual instruction for the class. At the secondary level, students in isolation or quarantine will have opportunities to connect with their teachers for live check-ins. FY 2022 Quarantine and Isolation Guidelines Flyer

Important Note: MCPS will not close school buildings and move to fully virtual instruction unless ordered to do so by state government officials.

Montgomery Virtual Academy

The Virtual Academy will provide full-time virtual learning to about 3,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For the 2021-2022 school year, the program will serve students with qualifying extenuating circumstances (including physical and mental health-related reasons, as well as demonstrated academic success during virtual learning). The Virtual Academy is a centrally managed program and will partner with students’ home schools to provide academic and social-emotional support. Students will continue to have access to services at their home school, including meals, extracurricular activities and athletics.

More information on the Virtual Academy is available here:

Social-Emotional Supports for Students

Over the summer, more than 14,000 MCPS staff members completed restorative justice training and thousands have received training on a new social-emotional curriculum for students. School-based student well-being teams have been expanded. These teams provide problem-solving solutions for unique student needs and family outreach, supporting students to reduce barriers to learning and reaching out to those with  mental health concerns those who and/or are not engaging in their education.

Celebrating Seneca Valley High School’s New Building

Maryland’s newest and largest high school, Seneca Valley High School, opened its doors today to more than 2,000 students. The new facility features 457,600  square feet of learning space and is a  comprehensive high school with  International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs, as well as many in-demand, career-focused programs. 

Seneca Valley High School: By The Numbers:

Building size        457,600 square feet

Lot size:         29.4 acres

Student Capacity:           2,551 students; 121 teaching stations

Student Enrollment:    Enrollment projected at 2,100 students in the 2021-2022 school year  

Construction Cost:      $160 million

MCPS By the Numbers:

209 Schools

Elementary (preK-5): 135

Middle (6-8): 40

High (9-12): 26

Special Schools: 5

Alternative Programs: 1

Early Childhood Learning Centers: 2

Student Demographics-2020-2021 school year

 26.9 percent White

 32.4 percent Hispanic/Latino

 21.4 percent Black or African American

 14.1 percent Asian

 5.3 percent Two or more races

 ≤ 5.0 percent American Indian or Alaskan Native

 ≤ 5.0 percent Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

Services-2020-2021 school year

 18.2% participate in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

 11.7% receive special education services

 33.3% participate in Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS)

Graduation Rate: 89.3%

Total Employees-2022: 24,436

Fiscal Year 2022 - Operating Budget 

$2.78 billion

Funding Sources

Montgomery County: 63.1%

State education aid: 29.6%

Federal govt. grants: 3.0%

Enterprise funds: 3.0%

Other sources: 0.4%

Fund balance: 0.9%

Putting Students First
MCPS enters the school year committed to student success and providing students with the educational experience they deserve. Learn about PROSPER, Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight’s vision for the school year.  




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