MCPS has sent a letter providing an update to the community of the new process for informing the community when weather requires an operational status change and when a closure might justify a shift to virtual instruction. The color-coded messages and additional information can be seen in the full letter below:
“Dear MCPS Students, Families and Staff,
As we now settle into the middle of the winter weather season, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is improving its process for informing the community when weather requires an operational status change and when a closure might justify a shift to virtual instruction. When it is determined that conditions are unsafe for students and staff, we have six operational status options, which will now be reported by easy-to-understand, color-coded messages. They are:
The safety of students and staff remains the top priority, and MCPS understands the inconvenience these situations can cause for families and staff. Operational changes due to emergency weather conditions are only made when necessary and after careful review.
In making a decision, MCPS leadership reviews information from national and local weather experts, local emergency management officials, and the operating status of other government and neighboring school districts. Additionally, leadership gathers information from state highway administrators and relies on key MCPS personnel who inspect the conditions of roads, sidewalks, MCPS parking lots and bus lanes.
Code Purple, which will indicate a shift to virtual learning, will ensure teaching and learning continues during weather emergencies. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has provided this opportunity to local school systems, and the Montgomery County Board of Education approved the virtual plan during its Jan. 12 business meeting. The approved plan has been sent to MSDE and this option can be used after receiving final approval. Available technology and previous virtual learning experience will enable MCPS to continue working with students even during inclement weather and emergencies. There are essential guidelines so staff and students can be fully prepared. These guidelines include:
- Is the impacting event predictable?
- Is the impacting event part of a multi-day scenario (such as a blizzard) or isolated to a day?
- Can prior preparation and communication with families, students and staff take place?
Communication is vital to ensuring that students, staff and families can easily transition. MCPS will follow these steps to let students, families and staff know:
- A “Get Ready” announcement (meaning weather is imminent) will be made districtwide.
- The decision to offer virtual learning will be made by noon the day before any potential weather.
- Student Well-Being Teams will contact identified students and families as a reminder about virtual start times.
- Schools will message families to remind them that it is a required school day and how to log in to classes.
When the weather is a concern, MCPS aims to ensure you are kept up to date with timely and accurate information. Please be sure to monitor weather-related delays, closings, and early dismissals and cooperate with school personnel as we work to ensure the safety of our students and staff.
Check your ParentVUE accounts and, if needed, update the contact information. This will ensure you receive all necessary school operational status updates.
Montgomery County Public Schools”