MCPS closes schools following widespread power outages


Photo courtesy of Pete Piringer (MCFRS)

A plane crashed into high-voltage power lines in Gaithersburg Sunday evening, causing widespread power outages, leading to MCPS closing schools Monday.

MCPS closed its schools Monday, Nov. 28, due to widespread power outages across the county caused by a crashed plane in Gaithersburg. Over 40 of 209 schools and six other offices and facilities across the system were without power, implacting crucial elements of infrastructure like maintenance, transportation and food service.

At 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night, over 120,000 PEPCO customers remained without power including significant portions of WJ community members in North Bethesda and Kensington.

With concerns regarding downed traffic lights and support infrastructure for schools, MCPS made the call to close schools at 11:27 p.m.

The plane struck high-voltage power lines around 5:30 pm on Sunday, leaving the plane stuck 100 feet in the air. The crash occurred near Goshen Street and Rothbury Drive in Gaithersburg while on approach for landing at the Montgomery County Airpark. Two passengers in the plane were not harmed, but were stuck for several hours as emergency crews worked to safely extract them from the plane.

Despite the fact that PEPCO reported service to be mostly restored around 1 a.m. Monday morning, MCPS reaffirmed its decision to remain closed.

“Staff need to assess all buildings for their safety and other systems readiness such as heat, water and network connectivity; this work will be done throughout the day,” MCPS said in a community update at 5 a.m.

Monday is MCPS’s first emergency-related closure of the year. Last year, excessive amounts of emergency closures caused MCPS to have to extend the school year in June to meet the state requirement of 180 days of school per year. However, even with Monday’s closure, MCPS is on track to have 181 days of instruction in the 2022-23 school year.