Teachers given 45 day notice of possible return, no solid safety measures in place

Montgomery County Public Schools presented this health metrics guideline for returning to in-person instruction at the October 27 Board of Education meeting.

Courtesy of Montgomery County Public Schools

Montgomery County Public Schools presented this health metrics guideline for returning to in-person instruction at the October 27 Board of Education meeting.

Montgomery County Public Schools gave the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) Teachers Union a 45-day notice on September 25 to open up discussions about transitioning back to in-person school soon.  

The 45-day notice was an agreement between MCPS and the teachers union to give notice before asking staff to return to the school building. “It was an opportunity to be considerate because we know that these are just really tough times,” school board member Jeanette Dixon said.

“This notice being sent out does not mean we will definitively be back in school in 45 days,” Dixon added. “Students will most likely remain in virtual learning throughout the entire first semester.”

However, Dixon could not elaborate more on procedures set in place for when students do return to in-person learning, as the Board of Education had not begun to discuss those ideas just yet. At Tuesday’s BOE meeting, Dixon said that she was unable to answer questions about safety precations. Superintendent Jack Smith said to reach out to Chief of Engagement, Innovation and Operations Derek Turner, who did not reply to a request for comment by the time of publication.

“I’m really nervous because we haven’t really heard any plans or what they’re doing to ensure the students’ safety,” junior Yoselin Escobar said. “When we return, I’m personally going to be social-distancing and wearing a mask everyday.”

In the open discussions between staff and the school board, many hybrid models have been discussed involving some students in the building and some students still learning online, although nothing has been set in stone by the Board yet. “MCPS has an opportunity to collect feedback, [because] we recognize some people do learn better in a building while some others learn better from the comfort of their home,” staff development teacher Kerrin Torres-Meriwether said. 

“I miss school because in-person learning was a lot easier for me,” senior Asnath Balionoso said. “I honestly feel like we should go back during the second semester with social distancing, of course, and following all of the rules.”

“I just have the utmost respect and affection for the teachers, and also the students because I’ve had very few complaints from students,” Dixon added. “It’s sort of like you’re rolling with the punches.” 

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