Montgomery County Public Schools sent out a community message on Friday afternoon with updated guidelines for sports and afterschool activities. The letter states that all-in person, non-athletic afterschool activities have been suspended from December 20 through January 7, though community events and day care can continue as scheduled.
Athletic practices and games can continue as scheduled but all athletic games scheduled to take place during Winter Break (December 23-January 2) are now cancelled, though optional practices are allowed.
Earlier this week we reported that MCPS updated its guidelines to include that all games and practices will be put on hold for a team for 14 days from the last know exposure if there are five or more active cases amongst the team.
Per Montgomery County:
Dear MCPS Community,
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, much has been asked of our students and staff. As an institution, we are grateful for all you have done in the face of this pandemic. Due to the efforts of everyone in our community, we have been able to return to in-person learning five days a week.
Still, the risk remains high. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Montgomery County and are also increasing in many areas of the country. While our student case rate is lower than most other school systems in Maryland, we have witnessed rising numbers of COVID-19 positive cases among MCPS students and staff in recent weeks.
MCPS continues to collaborate closely with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to ensure the safety of all students and staff in MCPS schools and facilities. Based on updated guidance from DHHS, the following measures will be implemented:
- All in-person, non-athletic extracurricular activities outside the school day are suspended from Monday, Dec. 20, through Friday, Jan. 7. Community use of school buildings, including daycare programs, can continue as scheduled.
- Athletic practices and games can continue as scheduled, as a result of the vaccination requirement for winter sports student-athletes . All games during Winter Break (December 23-January 2) are cancelled; optional practices are allowed. Beginning Monday, Dec. 20, if a team has three or more active positive COVID-19 cases, all team activities must be paused for 14 days. For athletic competitions, all spectators must continue to wear masks at all times.
- One of the best ways we can keep all students and staff safe is through random COVID-19 screening testing in schools. This currently occurs in all 209 schools, and we will increase the amount of COVID-19 screening testing in January. It is important for parents/guardians to give permission for their students to participate in the COVID-19 screening program.
- In cases where DHHS identifies an outbreak, as defined by the Maryland Department of Health, and there is concern about increased spread of COVID-19 in a school, reduced quarantine options may not be used for unvaccinated close contacts.
MCPS will continue to work closely with DHHS to monitor positive cases, and an additional community update will be sent prior to Winter Break. If cases continue to rise, DHHS will update its guidance to MCPS to incorporate additional mitigation measures. As has been the case throughout the school year, MCPS will only close schools and shift to virtual instruction if required to do so by local and/or state government officials.
We must all remain vigilant! If you suspect that you have been exposed or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please get a COVID-19 test and stay home until you receive the results. This is a critical piece of the prevention puzzle, but testing alone is not sufficient to keep the pandemic at bay.
Here is what you can do:
- Get the shot. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and available for everyone aged 5 and older.
- Get the booster shot if you’re eligible for one. The booster shot to ensure you are sufficiently protected is now available for everyone 16 and above.
- Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth whenever you are in an MCPS building or in public buildings.
- Wash your hands frequently before and after eating or touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Say Yes to the Test. Give permission for the random and rapid COVID-19 screening programs in MCPS schools. This is critical to identifying cases and reducing the number of students in quarantine.
- Socialize outdoors. If you meet with others indoors, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces. See more recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Planning to travel? Know what the CDC has to say about how to do that safely.
Many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue. It has been a long road. But it is crucial that we continue practicing the preventive behaviors that have helped to keep our community safe.
Montgomery County Public Schools
- Need the shot? Visit the Montgomery County Health and Human Services website to find a clinic and to register for a free vaccine. https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/
- Do you have symptoms? Did you travel? Did you gather with others? Get a free test. https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/testing.html
- Get the latest news and information about COVID-19 in Montgomery County. https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/news/index.html