boy in mask on bus

Community Update on

Return-to-School Plan

Dear Parents, Students and Staff:

During the February 23 Board of Education meeting, MCPS staff shared more information about the return-to-school plan. Here are five things you should know about the plan:

  1. The timeline and groups of students that will return has not changed. The Board discussed potentially reviewing and accelerating the timeline for return at their March 23 meeting. See the images below for a snapshot on where we are in the timeline and the groups/dates for return:


    Students Return

    Special Education (March 1)
    Career and Technical Education (March 1)
    • Autism K-12 Program
    • Extensions Program
    • School Community-based programs
    • Special Schools
    • Automotive
    • Construction
    • Cosmetology
    • Healthcare Professions
    • Restaurant Management

    Phase I
    Group 1.1 (March 15)
    Group 1.2 (by April 6)
    • Specific Special Education Programs
    • Specific Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs
    • Grades K-3
    • Alternative Education Programs
    • CREA
    • METS
    • Specific Special Education Programs
    • Grades 4-5
    • Prekindergarten
    • Grade 6
    • Grade 12
    Phase II
    Group 2.1 (by April 19)
    Group 2.2 (by April 26)
    • Grade 8
    • Grade 9
    • Grade 11
    • Grade 7
    • Grade 10

    Schools have started to share specific plans with families via email and during parent/community meetings. February 26 is the last day to contact your school if you can’t remember your selection or would like to request a change. If you are trying to switch from virtual to in-person, your school may place you on a waitlist if they currently do not have enough space.

  2. Safety is our top priority. MCPS has spent more than $15 million to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (masks, sanitizer, gloves, etc.) and make significant improvements to HVAC and safety systems. This includes filter upgrades and installing air cleaner units (65,000 filters have been changed and 5,000 air cleaners have been installed to support existing systems). Working together, we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following specific measures, including:

    • Wearing face coverings
    • Physical distancing
    • Frequent hand-washing and sanitizing
    • Enhanced cleaning of schools and classrooms
    • Weekly health attestations
    • Working with state and county officials to provide vaccinations for staff
    • Addressing building airflow/water systems
    • Implementing COVID-19 testing protocols
    • Contact tracing
  3. Free COVID-19 testing will be provided for students and staff. COVID-19 testing will take place at every school and will be available beginning March 15. Staff and students will do the nasal swab test themselves and families will be notified of positive cases in the school. Staff and students can opt out of testing—it is not mandatory. More information on our COVID-19 testing program will be shared with families soon. Students and staff will also be asked to complete a weekly health attestation form. The forms will be available in all languages and the link to the form will be sent to families soon. MCPS will work closely with county health staff on contact tracing if there is a positive case in a classroom/school. Our procedures will still require quarantine of students and staff in close contact with a COVID-positive individual.

    Watch this short video on COVID-19 testing in schools
  4. Students will interact and work with teachers daily. While schools will use a combination of instructional experiences to meet the needs of students, students (both in-person and virtual) will engage with teachers and other school staff daily for support and instruction. A school’s approach may change as more students return. MCPS will also continue to make adjustments to enhance the virtual learning experience for all students. This includes more professional development for staff, promoting student well-being and providing flexible options for student schedules.

  5. All meals will be provided. MCPS will continue to provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner meals to all students in schools and at designated food distribution sites. Students will be allowed to eat in a variety of locations throughout schools, including classrooms and large spaces, such as the cafeteria, as long as physical distancing and appropriate seating arrangements are utilized.

What’s Ahead

If you would like to see a model of what the safe, in-person school experience will look like, please watch this video. You can also watch the virtual community conversation that was held earlier tonight here. MCPS leaders answered questions submitted by parents, students and staff about the return-to-school plan. Additional information on the return-to-school plan can be found on the MCPS Recovery website:

Additional Resources

Email us:

Montgomery County Public Schools