MCPS Provides Community Update on Return-to-School Plans

MCPS Provides Community Update on Return-to-School Plans


As we shared in an update on Jan. 29, MCPS provided the Board of Education with an update on the district’s return-to-school plan. The Jan. 28 presentation focused on key safety and operational logistics for the return to in-person learning for students and families who selected it.

You can watch a video of that discussion here.

What’s Ahead

On Feb. 9, MCPS will share more information with the Board on the plan for students’ return, including an outline of what parents, students and staff can expect for in-person and virtual learning experiences and a timeline. The Board will consider a timeline for the return to in-person learning. The Board also will consider adjusting the school calendar to make March 8 a non-instructional day in order for staff to finish the preparation of buildings and participate in professional development before students return.

What to Listen For

MCPS staff will propose a March 1, 2021, return to school buildings for:

  1. Students in specific special education programs (Autism K-12 program, extensions program, school community-based programs and special schools)
  2. Students in specific Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs

Staff will also provide details on the return of students in kindergarten through grade 2 (kindergarten through grade 3 for Title I and Focus Schools), which is scheduled to begin on March 15 (Phase 1.1). The start date for Phase 1.2 has not yet been determined. To ensure the safety of all staff and students, MCPS will limit the number of students brought back within each phase and the number of students assigned to classroom spaces. Students will remain in virtual-only instruction until their phase begins.

March 15:  Phased-In Return Begins:


* The rollout of phases is dependent on the successful implementation of the previous phase, as well as health and safety conditions in the county.

The Student Experience

When students return for in-person learning experiences, 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 also be different as a result of three key factors:

Space—MCPS will follow physical distancing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means that significantly fewer students can be in a classroom or school building. School operations and spaces have been adjusted for safety under these guidelines.

Staffing—While many teachers, support professionals and administrators will return to the school building as students return, some staff will not be able to return to school buildings due to space limitations (CDC and county guidance) and approved medical/health and safety reasons.

Family Preference Survey Results—The number of families who selected the in-person option on the survey varied greatly across MCPS. Some schools had very little student interest, while others had significant interest. These numbers have been taken into consideration as schools plan for inperson school experiences.

As a result of these factors, schools may have some grade levels that will attend inperson four days a week, every week, while other grade levels will attend four days a week every other week (Wednesdays will remain virtual days for all students). Schools will provide families with specific information about their rotation schedules in the coming weeks.

Instructional Experience for Students

Students remaining in virtual-only instruction will continue to engage with their teachers and classmates through established platforms. Students returning to in-person learning will experience a variety of instructional approaches to meet their learning needs. Implementing new operational and instructional processes requires significant adjustments to ensure an excellent and equitable experience for all students.

Please note that schools will use a combination of direct instruction, simultaneous instruction and support to virtual instructional models to fully support instruction both for in-person and virtual-based students. Students will work closely with teachers, support staff and administrators just as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Does This Mean For My Child?

Families will receive information on classroom-specific plans throughout February. Please note that the number of students returning to school, staffing and grade-level details will impact the type of experience your child’s school creates.

What You Can Do

We encourage you to stay engaged with your school, watch for communication and connection activities from your child’s school, read all district messages and watch the videos that will be shared with families. These items will help you better understand what the return to school will look like.

Want to share your thoughts? Visit to let us know what’s important to you.

Montgomery County Public Schools

Safety Experience Video
Physical Distancing Video
In-Person Athletics Information Video

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