Six Things to Know

January 13, 2022

Dear MCPS Community,

Here are six things you need to know for Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. Included below is a recap from the Jan. 12 MCPS Community Conversation, key factors considered for any individual school to move to temporary virtual learning, information about students’ masks, take-home rapid COVID-19 testing kits, and more.

  1. MCPS Community Conversations Address Overarching Community Questions
    School district leadership and county leaders participated in a live online community conversation on Jan. 12 that can be viewed here. Elected officials and school system leaders answered questions on school health and safety protocols, coronavirus testing, and guidance for transitioning to virtual learning.  
    Following the community conversation, the dialogue continued with students live on Instagram, in a discussion between Student Member of the Board Hana O’Looney. Watch here.

  2. Possible Future Transitions to Virtual Learning
    To determine if any individual schools will transition to virtual learning in the future, MCPS will be looking at trends in: staff absences; unfilled substitute teacher requests; student absences; unserved bus routes; and positive case rates for students and staff over a 10-day period.  See a visual example of these key factors.  When a school is high in multiple areas as compared with other schools, MCPS will confer with the Department of Health and Human Services and then convene a team including central office representatives, the school’s principal, staff representatives, and parent leaders at the school. This team will make a recommendation to the Superintendent’s Cabinet.  
    If an individual school is determined to transition to virtual learning, notification to staff, students and community will occur on the website, through email, Connect-ED, and school-based social media, if it exists. The entire process of decision-making, notification and transition will take no longer than two business days, and parents will be notified at least one day in advance of a school transitioning to virtual learning for 10 calendar days.

  3. Plans for Students to Access Instruction Virtually
    During the Board of Education meeting on Jan. 13, MCPS staff presented  instructional plans for any students not in school due to isolation and quarantine.  Watch that presentation here.  

    At the Elementary Level (Beginning Jan. 18):
    • Students at home can access on-demand video screencast recordings of class through their MCPS Canvas portal (not through Zoom)
    • Instruction will prioritize literacy and math
    • There will not be interaction with teachers or high-stakes assignments
    • This model will apply for any student in quarantine learning beginning Jan. 18
    At the Secondary Level (Already in Place): 
    • Individual teachers are currently serving students in quarantine through either: Zooming students into their class for live streaming or meeting with them during a non-instructional period of the day

    On a case-by-case basis, we will be expanding the availability of quarantine instruction to students who are not in quarantine but have concerns about attending school due to COVID-19. Families interested in this option should contact their child’s school, and the absences will be excused. This option will be available through Monday, January 31, and may be extended.

  4. KN95 Masks for Students
    This week, all staff members at schools and central office locations received KN95 masks. KN95 masks for students were delivered to secondary schools. MCPS is procuring child-sized KN95 masks for younger students and those will begin to arrive at elementary schools next week. We strongly encourage students and staff to wear them when inside MCPS facilities, where masks continue to be required.

  5. Take-Home Test Kits
    Students and staff have received take-home rapid test kits. Parents are asked to help students administer these tests at home and to report whether their child has tested positive or negative using the MCPS COVID-19 Reporting Form. (You may also call your child’s school if you are not able to submit the information electronically.) All students and staff are strongly encouraged to use these kits and report all results, both positive and negative, by Friday, Jan. 14.  Please also continue to report all positive test results for students and staff that come from tests not provided by the school system.  Any student who tests positive will be required to isolate for 10 days from the date of the positive test, or 10 days from the onset of symptoms, whichever is earlier. Central office and non-school based staff also received masks and rapid test kits this week and are strongly encouraged to use these kits if showing any symptoms and to report positive test results. Tests for both students and staff will continue to be distributed over the coming weeks.

  6. Bus Transportation Disruptions Decreasing
    Since returning to school on Jan. 5, staffing shortages due to COVID-19 illness and vacant positions have caused disruptions and cancellation of multiple routes. Those numbers are trending downward, declining from a peak of over 100 routes affected to only 29 today, Jan. 13. 
    Staff in the MCPS Department of Transportation are continuing to recruit, hire and train bus drivers. The Department of Transportation continues to:
    • Communicate specific routes and affected schools by posting daily updates on this page.
    • Prioritize routes that serve students with special needs.
    • Continue to use available staff to drive multiple routes serving one school.

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