Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser Date: Feb. 9, 2021

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Community Update on
Return-to-School Plans

Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff and Students:

Today, February 9, 2021, the Board of Education voted to begin the safe return to in-person learning on March 1, 2021, starting with students in specific special education and Career and Technical Education programs. Additionally, the Board approved the phased return of students to in-person instruction beginning March 15, 2021, as recommended by the superintendent. The Board also voted to adjust the 2020-2021 school calendar to make March 8 a non-instructional day for staff to finish the preparation of buildings and participate in professional development before students return.  

Specific Special Education Programs

March 1 Return

Specific Special Education Programs Weekly Schedule
  • Autism K–12 Program
  • Extensions Program
  • School Community-based
  • Special Schools

In-person learning:


Virtual learning:


Technical Programs

March 1 Return

Schools Programs Models

Thomas Edison High School of Technology

  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Cosmetology
  • Healthcare Professions
  • Restaurant Management
  • Morning students on “A” Day
  • Afternoon students on “B” Day
  • Both weeks March 1–12
  • Virtual classes with home school on alternating days
  • Virtual learning on Wednesdays
  • Blend of instructional models

Seneca Valley, Gaithersburg, Damascus, Paint Branch

  • Attending both weeks March 1–12
  • Attend program classes in-person at designated class periods, with blend of models

March 15: Phased-in Return Begins

Group 1.1
  • Discrete Programs and Special Populations
  • CTE Programs
  • METS
  • CREA
  • Alternative Programs
  • Grades K–3

[Read the Recovery Guide]

{Read the Board resolution}

When students return, it will look and feel much different from what they previously experienced in school buildings. Face coverings, physical distancing and frequent hand-washing will be required to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, how frequently a student attends school in-person and how they engage with their teacher, other staff members and peers will be different.

During the Board meeting, staff shared an outline of what parents, students and staff can expect for in-person and virtual learning. In addition to direct instruction, students will experience the following:

  • Academic interventions or small group instruction in English Language Arts/Math
  • Re-teaching and review of concepts
  • Structured class discussions or peer-to-peer collaborative learning opportunities
  • Opportunities to participate in recess, lunch and other activities 
  • Social-emotional learning or well-being activities (i.e., classroom community building)

Addressing Misconceptions

Staff also provided information to the Board to clarify the following misconceptions about instruction in school buildings:

Misconception #1: A student will only interact with paraeducators when in the building.

FACT—Students attending in person will interact with teachers, as well as  other staff members.

Misconception #2: Principals are “choosing” only one instructional approach within a school building. 

FACT—Students will experience multiple instructional approaches in a day.

Misconception #3: In-person learning is just “babysitting.”

FACT—While it will not be a traditional brick-and-mortar experience, students will benefit from in-person learning with a variety of staff and engagement with their peers.

{Watch: Instructional experiences explainer video and rotation schedule explainer video} 

What’s Next

The proposed return dates for groups in Phases 1 and 2 are as follows:

Phases for Return (Optimal Dates)

Group 1.1
(March 15)
Group 1.2
(No later than April 6)
  • Discrete Programs and Special Populations
  • CTE Programs
  • METS
  • CREA
  • Alternative Programs
  • Grades K–3
  • Discrete Programs and Special Populations
  • Additional CTE Programs
  • Grades 4–5
  • Pre-kindergarten
  • Grade 6
  • Grade 12
Group 2.1
(No later than April 19)
Group 2.2
(No later than April 26)
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 9
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 10

Families will receive information on school-specific plans throughout February. The Recovery Guide provides an overview of our plans for virtual and in-person learning experiences; extracurricular activities and athletics; and operations, safety and logistics.

MCPS is committed to bringing students back as quickly and safely as possible over the next few weeks. However, because we are unable to predict the path of the pandemic,  should the present downward trend in cases change, MCPS may need to revisit the approved timeline to keep the well-being of our students and staff at the forefront of our planning.

Montgomery County Public Schools