MCPS gives employees 45-day notice of return to schools

Maryland

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md (WDVM) – Teachers at Montgomery County Public Schools received a 45-day notice of a possible return to in-person teaching.

The letter was sent out Friday and indicated beginning stages of a reopening strategy.

MCPS launched the Fall semester virtually, but the letter recognizes the school system “cannot replace the in-person educational experience for our students.”

The school system says they are working with county health officials to follow state and local health guidelines, and a phased transition to in-person schooling will begin when health conditions allow.

MCPS says in-person instruction will not ne begin in 45 days. Rather, it’s a starting point for “in-depth collaborative planning.”

The full letter can be read below.

Dear Colleagues:

We want to first and foremost share our deep appreciation for all you have done, and continue to do, to support our students in these unprecedented times. There is no question that virtual learning has been difficult for students and staff alike. However, it is also important to acknowledge that virtual learning is an essential part of the statewide effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe. 

We recognize that there have been a number of recent actions at the state level and in surrounding school systems regarding groups of students returning to in-person, in-building instruction. As a result, we write today to share our plans for our continued work together to thoughtfully assess and define appropriate steps for the safe return of some groups of staff and students.

While not perfect, the virtual-only learning model has provided a solid foundation that meets the needs of many. This foundation is the product of the dedication and hard work of every staff member in our district. However, we also recognize that virtual learning cannot replace the in-person educational experience for our students. When health and safety conditions allow, we will begin a phased transition back to in-person instruction to ensure all students have the access and opportunity they need to reach their full potential while maintaining student and staff safety. 

We have been working together over the last several weeks to begin exploring strategies for an in-person return. There is mutual interest to ensure enough time to jointly develop a comprehensive plan for the eventual return to in-person instruction. 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.

We know that this news may cause apprehension for some people. Please know that the safety of our students and staff is the top priority for us. MCPS is working with county health officials, and we are all closely following state and local health metrics to guide our timing for a phased-in return.   

We will continue to work together to build on the ideas and framework for an eventual return to in-person instruction that are included in our Fall 2020 Recovery plan. There is much more to be considered, examined and decided before in-person learning can begin. We will continue to gather input from stakeholders throughout the process. We welcome all of your feedback. We will continue to provide regular updates as we move forward in this effort. 

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our students.

Sincerely,

Jack Smith Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Christine Handy

President, MCAAP / MCBOA

Christopher Lloyd, NBCT President, MCEA

Pia Morrison

President, SEIU Local 500

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