Updated: Jan 25
by Maggie Welsh
The process of reopening MCPS schools for small targeted populations of students has caused anxiety for students and teachers alike.
Five days before Montgomery County Public Schools started virtual school, Governor Larry Hogan urged all school counties in Maryland to reopen for in-person learning.
Hogan said, “I am announcing that as a result of our improved health metrics, every single county school system in the state of Maryland is now fully authorized to fully open.”
Montgomery County health officials were thrown off guard by that statement saying, “We are dismayed and perplexed that Governor Hogan made this announcement just days before students return to school. MCPS has been proactive and deliberate in its approach in creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment in our schools.” MCPS is the biggest county in Maryland, so switching over to a new plan days before the school year started was just too hard. Pressure was put on the MCPS officials to revise their plans for the future.
MCPS did make an agreement with the Montgomery County Educators’ Association (MCEA) about reopening schools. Part of the agreement was notifying teachers 45 days before the schools could reopen and only letting the teachers teach in the building for five hours a day.
On Friday September 25th, MCPS gave the teachers a 45-day notice initiating the process of reopening schools. However, MCPS clarified that this does not mean all students will actually go back to in-person learning in 45 days. They are now starting to really think about how some students in specialized populations can start coming into school buildings.
In the letter to MCPS teachers and staff, MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith said, “Thus, today MCPS formally provided employee associations the minimum 45-day notice required by our agreements to legally honor and preserve timelines. To be clear, this does not mean that in-person instruction will begin in 45 days. Instead, it means that we can reopen impact bargaining and do more in-depth collaborative planning for the eventual return to instruction in buildings.”
All this different information coming out has people confused about what to think about going back to school. Some Northwood students wonder if we ever will.
Senior Maddie Brennan thinks, “I don’t think we will be going back to school. MCPS is just too big to make a plan for all the schools. I also don’t think I’ll be safe just with the flu in the winter. I don’t think I would go back to school because I’m only taking one class at Northwood and it doesn’t seem worth it to just go back for that class.”