MCPS prepares for reopening, discusses COVID-19 testing plan

Maryland

ROCKVILLE, Md (WDVM) – The Montgomery County School Board held a meeting Tuesday to solidify their reopening plan starting in March.

Montgomery County’s hybrid model, scheduled to begin March 1, brings in select groups of students – with the full reopening plan beginning March 15.

The return follows almost a year after the school buildings first closed for the pandemic.

The school board discussed various safety protocols which include face coverings, sanitation stations and social distancing.

The schools will be implementing a voluntary form of surveillance testing starting March 15. The weekly process would pick a group of students and staff and test them as a group. If any test comes back positive, all group members will be tested individually and asked to quarantine.

“We encourage everyone to participate and if they do not want to participate, they will be allowed to opt-out,” MCPS Chief of Engagement, Innovation and Operations Derek Turner said. “But we really think this is a way to ensure that each classroom is safe and that we know that there are cases of COVID-19 that are asymptomatic in our school buildings.”

During the board meeting, the Montgomery County Education Association helped organize a rally at the school district’s headquarters, with hundreds of cars protesting the reopening plan.

“It’s so easy to dismiss the lives at risk when you reduce them down to numbers on a spreadsheet,” 4th-grade teacher Donna Morales said. “But whatever plan we move forward with has very real moral implications with very real lives.”

The Teachers Union recently voted no confidence in the school’s reopening plan and wants all school staff to be vaccinated before in-person instruction begins.

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