Photo courtesy of ACES (Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success)
As the second quarter comes to a close there is mounting pressure for Montgomery County to open all schools. The MCPS Board of Education has voted for a return date starting March 1. The board specifically clarified that students have a choice in their return date as students could remain virtual or could do in person if comfortable with that option.
The Board of Education has selected to start the reopening process in three tiers. The first tier on March 1 will be the reopening for children with special needs and students in certain tech programs. The second tier will reopen back up on March 15. On this date, students K-3 will go back to a hybrid learning model on A-B day rotation. The third and final tier of reopening will begin on April 6. The remaining grades beginning with seniors will start the hybrid learning process.
MCPS has stated that its number one priority is the health and safety of all staff and students. The reopening plan starts with the vaccination of all staff members (teachers, administrators, principals, etc.) in order to minimize the risk of exposure to Covid-19. Dr. Smith, the superintendent of MCPS and the leader of the board, said that MCPS will be administering the vaccines to all staff members.
Montgomery County will be one of the last counties in the country to reopen schools back up to, at the least, a hybrid learning system. The board has stated that MCPS staff members will go through training recommended by other school counties who already have gone back to in-person schooling.
Another key element about reopening schools is communication with staff, students and parents. According to the board, MCPS will send out emails to all parents, staff and students about how the reopening will take place and what measures MCPS will take to ensure the safety of everyone.
Sophomore Grace Koizumi expressed her concerns about her and her friends’ safety for in-school learning.
“I doubt about our safety and distribution of the vaccine. A lot of people and my peers are reluctant because at this point it’s easier to be online. I also doubt everyone would follow all safety guidelines made by MCPS like masks and social distancing. Especially because of the very narrow staircases and hallways our school has. Our safety is the most important thing right now and no matter how strict the safety guidelines are, it’s going to be hard,” Koizumi said.