Community Message from the MCPS Medical Officer Regarding COVID-19

Montgomery County Public schools sent out the following community message from MCPS Medical Officer Patricia Kapunan, M.D. on Thursday, August 25:

Dear MCPS Community,
We are so excited to be back together next week for the new school year! As we return to shared spaces, the health and wellness of our students and staff remains a top priority. We have more tools, experience and knowledge than ever to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our school community. Here are some important things to know about vaccination, testing and masking as staff and students return to school:

COVID-19 Vaccination Helps Our School Community

Vaccines are an important way to lower individual risk of severe complications from COVID-19 infection. A high vaccine coverage rate helps reduce the overall burden of COVID-19 on the school community and helps keep learning going, as individuals with milder symptoms will miss fewer school or work days. We continue to strongly recommend students receive all recommended COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for which they are eligible. At this time, COVID-19 vaccination is required for staff unless approved for a medical exemption. We will continue to provide opportunities for students, staff and family members to receive COVID-19 vaccines atafter-school and weekend events.

Rapid Testing for COVID-19 for a Strong School Year Start

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is encouraging at-home rapid testing for COVID-19 as staff and students return to school. Testing is an important way to identify individuals actively positive for COVID-19 who should temporarily isolate in order to prevent further transmission and keep our school community as healthy as possible.

End-of-summer activities, such as returning from travel or getting together with larger groups, can increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Staff and students may consider testing even after school begins, following Labor Day holiday travel or after higher-risk social events that may coincide with the start of the school year. Testing is not mandatory. We are depending on our staff and families to consider their exposure risk, and test and report positive results accordingly.

Test kits will be available at schools, at the MCPS Annual Back-to-School Fair on Aug. 27, and upcoming school-based weekend vaccination clinics on Aug. 27 and Aug. 28. Free rapid test kits are also available to Montgomery County residents at most public library locations, or by mail for home delivery from the U.S. government. Only positive test results need to be reported using theMCPS COVID-19 Reporting Form. Individuals who have a positive COVID-19 test should report their positive result and follow CDC guidelines for isolation.


As of today, the CDC COVID-19 Community Risk Level for Montgomery County is “low.”  At this time, masking is not mandatory in MCPS buildings or buses in most situations. Health room staff actively engaged in patient care or anyone assisting with medical procedures must follow infection control guidelines from the DHHS and the CDC, including wearing a mask when required.

In addition, masking may be temporarily required for individuals or groups, in certain circumstances:

  • A student develops symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day and presents to the health room for evaluation
  • A student has tested positive at school for COVID-19 and is awaiting pick-up
  • In outbreak situations, as an alternative to quarantine for exposed individuals who do not have symptoms of COVID-19
  • For students or staff recovering from COVID-19 who have completed at least five full days of isolation, and feel well enough to return to school or work.

Recommendations and requirements for masking can be expected to change during the school year, as COVID-19 data trends and science change. For individuals who cannot safely mask, other prevention measures will be used.

Please remember that all staff and students are supported in their decision to wear a mask for individual protection, at any risk level.  MCPS will continue to provide masks for staff and students for use during the school day.

The new school year is just around the corner! Let’s work together to keep our school community well, as we return with excitement, renewed purpose and joy.


Patricia Kapunan, M.D.
MCPS Medical Officer

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17th Annual Kensington Day of the Book Festival

Now in its 17th year, the Kensington Day of the Book Festival is a family-friendly street festival featuring 150+ renowned authors, poets, and literary organizations. Enjoy live music on five stages, special guest speakers, military veteran writers and comedians, poetry readings, cookbook demos, children's program, and much more.

Admission is free, and attendees will also be able to explore a marketplace of books and food offerings from local vendors.

Not your average book festival! This festival offers something for everyone!

17th Annual Kensington Day of the Book Festival

Sunday, April 21, 2024, 11am-4pm (held rain or shine!)

Howard Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895

Instagram: @kensingtonbookfestival

Contact: Elisenda Sola-Sole, Festival Director

[email protected]

301-949-9416 (text preferred)

FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival

Get ready to experience the vibrant colors, tantalizing flavors, and infectious rhythms of the Caribbean at the FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival! Hosted by RHU LLC, this exciting festival is set to take place on May 18, 2024, at the picturesque 16700 Barnesville Rd in Boyds, MD.

Step into a world where the Caribbean spirit comes alive! From 12:00 PM onwards, immerse yourself in a sensory journey that celebrates the unique culture, cuisine, and music of the Caribbean. Whether you're an African American, a Reggae or Soca music enthusiast, a wine lover, or part of the vibrant Caribbean diaspora, this festival promises to delight and captivate you in every way.

Let the enticing aromas of mouthwatering Caribbean dishes tantalize your taste buds. Feast on traditional delicacies prepared by expert chefs, showcasing the rich and diverse culinary heritage of the Caribbean. Indulge in flavorful jerk chicken, succulent seafood, and delectable plantain dishes that will transport you straight to the islands.

Accompanying the culinary extravaganza is a carefully curated selection of premium wines, ensuring the perfect pairing for your palate. Sip on fine wines from renowned vineyards, each sip a reflection of the Caribbean's vibrant spirit. Discover new flavors, expand your wine knowledge, and savor unforgettable moments with every glass.

As the sun sets, get ready to groove to the infectious rhythms of Caribbean music. Feel the pulsating beats of reggae, soca, dancehall, and calypso, moving your body to the lively melodies. Live performances by talented musicians and performers will keep the energy high, ensuring a night of unforgettable entertainment.

Don't miss this opportunity to embrace the Caribbean spirit and celebrate the arrival of spring in style! Tickets are available on AllEvents, so secure your spot today. Join us at the FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival, where cultures collide and unforgettable memories are made.



2 NIGHT Camping packages available: RV/CAMPER $200 | TENTS $150 Starting on Friday May 17 @ 5pm | 30 RV SPACES | 30+ TENT SPACES



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