What You Need to Know Should Masks Become Optional in MCPS

Montgomery County Public Schools sent out the following community message on Friday, March 4:

It is anticipated the Board of Education (BoE) will vote on a “mask optional” policy for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) at the upcoming March 8th meeting.

At the meeting, there will be discussion of relevant data in conjunction with federal, state and local guidance, and—absent a spike in cases or hospitalizations—it may be appropriate for masks to be optional in MCPS schools. The BoE will make that decision.

This discussion follows a recent decision by Maryland state to end a mask mandate for schools, along with revised masking Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention guidelines that no longer recommend universal mask-wearing in schools.

The changes to our mask policy will be welcome to some and it may be worrying to others.  There will be students, teachers and administrators who want or need to continue to mask in our schools. We must respect that.

As a district, we expect our MCPS community to respect individual decisions about whether to mask or unmask at this time.Our staff and students must model kindness, acceptance and inclusivity. MCPS will work assiduously in communication with students, staff and families to ensure we all know the importance of respecting the individual decision to wear a mask or not wear a mask if the decision to make them optional occurs.

Transportation and Extracurricular Events
In addition, masks are expected to be optional on our school buses. We will continue to keep windows open when weather permits. At our sporting events and in-person performances, masks would also be optional.

Ongoing Virus Mitigation (Reducing Virus Spread)
The school district maintains a multi-layered COVID-19 mitigation strategy, including:

  • rapid COVID home testing
  • random and rapid in-school virus testing
  • improved HVAC systems in all buildings
  • vaccination clinics for all available age groups
  • enhanced cleaning practices
  • distribution of KN-95 masks throughout this school year

Also, quarantine and isolation periods have been reduced from 10 days to 5 days. These measures and county efforts to reduce virus spread have helped ensure a safe school environment. The CDC currently rates Montgomery County as “low” on its measurement of the impact of COVID-19 illness on the community.

Vaccination continues to be the most important way to stay safe and healthy. Please get vaccinated or boosted if you are eligible.

There are vaccination clinics at schools on Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6. Information about county vaccination sites can be found here.

MCPS will monitor virus conditions in our county and schools. Should there be a need to shift masking guidance, decisions will be made in collaboration with our local and state health partners, as well as the MCPS COVID-19 Advisory Team. The COVID-19 Data Dashboard will be an important resource.

We are committed to ensuring a safe environment for students and staff.

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