Dear MCPS Parents, Guardians and Community Members: 

I hope that you and the children in your lives had a great spring break, got some rest and enjoyed free time with each other. While many of us may feel that spring break went by far too quickly, others were more than ready to return to the familiar pattern of school days and the projects, sports or studies that fill our days. Each family is unique.

We know that along with the joy of family gatherings and holiday celebrations can come increased risk of infection from COVID. Let’s remain vigilant and keep our schools as COVID-free as possible. Please encourage your child to get tested, report results and stay home if they are sick. And as always, respect those who choose to mask out of an abundance of caution.

As students and staff return to classrooms and schools, I want you to know how much we value our community’s well-being–because mental health matters! It matters to me. It matters to our school system. I want the members of our school communities to be able to take the time and care for their mental health at school, as well as at home.

This is the final stretch of the school year. Everyone in our schools is there for our students and families—I want to provide the supports our community needs to thrive socially, emotionally and academically. 

Over the last few weeks, I have heard students loudly and clearly: Students like Sam and Himanshu have come before the Board of Education to call on us, as adults, to prioritize well-being. I hear students asking for adults with whom they can share confidential challenges, to believe in and instill confidence in them, and to connect them with additional resources. And I understand that students are also asking for us to think differently about how we structure the time that they are in school. Students need time to decompress. They’ve asked me to explore more opportunities for unstructured time so they can commit to recharging. 

Our students are not alone in needing to prioritize their mental wellness. Staff are also looking to achieve a balance that will allow them to take care of themselves. They want to best serve our students, which requires time to adequately prepare for what is expected of them. We must foster and celebrate adults’ attention to wellness.  

Though mental health and social-emotional wellness have historically been part of the school experience, they have taken on increased prominence in the wake of COVID-19. And we are proud of what we’ve been able to put in place:

  • A social-emotional curriculum, Leader in Me.
  • Additional counselors, including those who support emergent multilingual learners transitioning to the school system.
  • Parent community coordinators and student well-being teams operating in all schools.
  • Expanding restorative justice supports through coaching and additional staff training.

We’re still working on:

  • Hiring and placing social workers in all high schools.
  • Rolling out the Leader in Me social-emotional curriculum to more schools.
  • Expanding restorative justice supports through coaching and additional staff training.
  • Exploring innovative ways to hire more psychologists and counselors into schools.
  • Building strategies to have wellness opportunities offered every day in every school.
  • Expanding mindfulness spaces and practices.

Everyone in our school buildings is there to ensure our students’ success. As we head into the final weeks of school, if your child feels anxious, nervous, concerned, a little bit confused and even excited—these are all normal feelings. However, if a child feels that they cannot manage these emotions in a healthy way, please reach out to your child’s school, encourage them to see their school counselor or other trusted adult, and we’ll help them get the help they need.

I am eager to work with you to find the best solutions possible to ensure all of our community members are safe, feel confident and secure, and have every opportunity to learn. I will continue to listen, including through a series of upcoming community conversations about how we can work together in support of our children. 


Monifa B. McKnight, Ed.D.

Interim Superintendent of Schools

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Montgomery County Public Schools