Important Message from the MCPS School System Medical Officer Regarding COVID-19

Montgomery County Public Schools sent the following community message on Tuesday, January 17:
”Dear MCPS Community,
On Thursday, Jan. 12, county leaders shared their concerns about rising rates of COVID-19 in our community. Since hospital admissions for COVID-19 have increased, our county’s community risk level is now at MEDIUM. This stresses the importance of heightened awareness and preventing severe disease in our most vulnerable community members. On our school dashboard, we saw a higher number of positive cases the first week after school reopening, with fewer cases reported the following week.

Everyone should practice healthy habits, which prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. Here are some other steps individuals can take to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our community:

  1. Consider COVID-19 risk when making health decisions.
    Understand COVID-19 risk so you can take extra precautions in high-risk situations, if you have risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection, or are around someone at increased risk. Adults older than 50 years, pregnant people and individuals with certain medical conditions, including diabetes and asthma, are at highest risk from severe disease due to COVID.

  2. Wear a mask to prevent spread of infection, especially in high-risk situations.
    Our county health department strongly recommends wearing a well-fitting face covering in crowded indoor spaces. Consider wearing a mask in other situations if you have risk factors, or will be around a family member with risk factors for severe respiratory infection. If you have COVID-19 or have been exposed as a close contact, please mask according to CDC’s isolation and exposure guidelines. Staff and students may be asked to mask temporarily in local outbreak or other high-risk situations.

  3. Stay up to date on vaccinations, especially if you have risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection. 
    COVID-19 vaccines are an important way to help prevent severe infection and are approved for those 6 months old and older. Because the effect of vaccines can wane over time, an updated booster provides additional valuable protection against serious illness for individuals at higher risk.

  4. Get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or a possible exposure.
    It may be difficult to tell if symptoms are from COVID-19 or another flu-like illness. Testing is an important way to identify individuals with active COVID-19 infection, who can then seek care if needed and also avoid spreading the virus to others. Consider testing before spending time with a high-risk family member.

  5. If you test positive for COVID-19:

    • Seek advice from your health care provider promptly if your symptoms are severe or if you are at high risk for a severe respiratory infection. Treatments are available that can help prevent severe disease, and are most helpful when given early.
    • Follow the CDC’s recommended isolation guidelines to reduce spread to others.
    • Staff and students testing positive should report their results using MCPS’ online tool. Reporting results helps MCPS track outbreaks and take measures to reduce further transmission, when an outbreak occurs in our school spaces.

MCPS continues to work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services to monitor data trends and plan health and safety measures. Internally and with community guidance, we are working on reducing the impact of COVID-19 on our school operations. We thank everyone for their continued support in working together to keep our community healthy.

Patricia Kapunan, M.D., M.P.H.
MCPS Medical Officer”



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