November 11, 2021
Dear MCPS Community,
During the last week of October, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) revised their COVID-19 guidance to schools. The new guidance included three modified quarantine options that would enable students to remain in school after being exposed to a student who tested positive for COVID-19, in cases where both students were wearing masks during the exposure. The three modified quarantine options are Test-to-Stay, weekly screening testing, and correct and consistent use of well-fitting masks. Based on recommendations from the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is using weekly screening testing as the modified quarantine option in these cases. This modified quarantine option was implemented this week, and it has already resulted in fewer students needing to quarantine.
The Test-to-Stay Program, as planned by DHHS and MCPS, would provide rapid COVID-19 testing to students each morning for five school days after they were exposed to another student who tested positive for COVID-19. As long as the rapid tests are negative each morning, the students would be allowed to attend class for the remainder of the day. Originally DHHS and MCPS were planning to use the Test-to-Stay Program for cases where students were exposed to a student who tested positive for COVID-19 during lunch. However, the revised COVID-19 guidance from MDH and MSDE stated that the Test-to-Stay Program could not be used for this purpose. Yesterday MDH, after conversations with DHHS, expressed support for the Test-to-Stay Program to proceed in these cases. As a result, we will be working with DHHS to pilot Test-to-Stay in a small number of schools prior to Thanksgiving Break, with the goal of gradually expanding to more schools throughout the 2nd marking period. MDH, DHHS and MCPS will review data throughout this launch to ensure the program is safe and effective.
This information will be updated on the MCPS website later today. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work with our county and state partners to ensure we have the latest guidance to best support schools.
Montgomery County Public Schools