GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — After nearly a year of virtual learning, small groups of students in Montgomery County returned to in-person learning on Monday. Just a few hundred of the school system’s 160,000 students went back into classrooms as part of MCPS’s phased reopening plan.
Systemwide MCPS school closures began on March 16, 2020, and students began full-time virtual learning shortly after.
Special education students in the School Community-Based program (SCB) and students in hands-on career and technology programs are in the first phase of students to return across MCPS this spring.
WDVM’s Randi Bass went to Gaithersburg High School, one of Montgomery County’s largest schools, to see some of those students shuffle back into school buildings early Monday morning.
On a normal day, about 2,500 students are sitting in classrooms at GHS. On the first day, students were allowed to come back into classrooms, just a few dozen were able to return.
“As soon as those doors opened and they see their teachers and their staff, the smiles on their faces. it’s hard to describe,” said GHS Principal Cary Dimmick.
Dimmick says a lot of preparation happened behind the scenes ahead of Monday’s reopening.
“A lot of extensive planning, hundreds and hundreds of hours of planning. I think the nervous excitement comes because no matter how well you’ve planned, it can all go sideways very quickly,” said Dimmick.
It’s not your typical first day back at school though, a lot has changed since MCPS doors closed nearly 50 weeks ago.
“We have one-way hallways. Everyone is wearing masks. Our desks are spaced at least six feet apart, sometimes more, if classrooms accommodate that,” said Dimmick.
More students are on the way as part of the MCPS reopening plan. In the next two months, hundreds of GHS students are slated to move from Zoom to the classroom.
“It’s great to see that they’re ready to come back. I’m sure they’ve missed this place as much as we’ve missed them,” said Dimmick.