The following message was released by MCPS Medical Officer Patricia Kapunan, M.D., MPH on Friday, September 16:
“Dear MCPS Families,
Here is an update on COVID-19 as we wrap-up the third week of school. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Community Risk Level for Montgomery County is “low,” we are seeing an expected modest rise in positive COVID-19 cases reported to MCPS, after summer travel and the return to school. The highest number of positive tests so far were reported last week, after Labor Day weekend. Fortunately, fewer positive cases are being reported this week.
Thank you to our staff and families for continuing to test when they have symptoms or after a possible exposure, for using the online tool to report positive COVID-19 test results, and for following CDC isolation guidelines. Core health strategies like staying home when sick and good hand-washing are also important for limiting the spread of infection. As our schedules get busier, remember the basics—rest, good nutrition and staying active all help to keep students healthy and ready to learn.
Please remember that while masking is optional, masks are temporarily required in some situations:
Students presenting to the health room for evaluation of possible COVID-19 symptoms.
Staff or students who test positive for COVID-19 at school or work.
Staff or students with COVID-19 infection, after completing five days of isolation, who feel well enough to return to school or work (masks are worn until day 10).
Individuals exposed during an outbreak, as an alternative to 10-day quarantine. Exposed staff and students do not need to quarantine as long as they are symptom free, and can safely wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.
Children who cannot wear a mask safely due to health considerations, young age or other factors, may need other preventive strategies in an outbreak. At any risk level, we respect an individual’s decision to wear a mask for their own health reasons or to protect another person.
Vaccination is still our most effective tool for preventing serious complications or death due to COVID-19, and can decrease the risk of becoming infected. The new updated COVID-19 boosters that also include protection against the latest Omicron subvariants are now available at county-sponsored clinics, including school-based vaccine clinics or at retail pharmacies or other locations.
Vigilance, preparation and prevention are necessary to support our commitment to safe, in-person learning. We continue to monitor data trends closely at the county and school levels with our public health partners, and encourage everyone to engage in prevention measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Thank you again for your help and commitment to keeping our MCPS community healthy. Enjoy the upcoming weekend!
Patricia Kapunan, M.D., MPH
MCPS Medical Officer”