Earlier today, MCPS released a community update detailing plans to secure the safety of students and staff despite the recent spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the county.
Masks and Rapid Test Kits
In the last week, the county has distributed KN-95 masks to all MCPS staff. The county plans to distribute KN-95 masks to all students within the next two weeks. Studies prove that these masks are more effective in preventing the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, in comparison with regular blue surgical masks or cloth masks. The use of masks within MCPS facilities continues to be required.
The county will also be providing all students and staff with take-home rapid test kits, and is requesting that parents submit test results (both positive and negative) through the MCPS COVID-19 Reporting Form by Friday, Jan. 14. Students who test positive must isolate themselves for at least ten days. A video tutorial on how to use the test kit can be viewed here.
The 11 schools that transitioned to a 14-day period of virtual learning last week are set to return to in-person learning by Tuesday, Jan. 18. Going forward, the county and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will work together to evaluate schools on a “case-by-case basis” to determine whether certain schools may need to transition to virtual learning.
Bus Driver Staffing Shortages
The update also discussed challenges due to bus driver staffing shortages as a result of COVID-19. Staffing shortages in the Department of Transportation continues to make recruitment difficult. Available staff will continue to drive multiple routes, and information regarding specific bus routes can be found here. The list of routes for each day will be posted by 7 p.m. the previous night, and information may be added each morning.
Staff Isolation Guidelines and Extracurriculars
Staff who test positive for COVID-19 must stay home for at least five days from the date of symptom onset or the date of the positive test. After the fifth day, if symptoms recede, the staff member may return to school, provided they wear a well-fitting mask. Otherwise, they should remain in isolation for another five days. Staff who are not fully vaccinated and have been in close-contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 must also quarantine according to these guidelines.
In-person extracurriculars are scheduled to resume on Tuesday, Jan. 18. All participants must have completed the take-home rapid test and submitted their results. However, this is subject to change based on the changes in case numbers within the following weeks.
All MCPS community members are encouraged to report their COVID-19 results and stay home if they are experiencing symptoms or feeling unwell. Parents are further encouraged to grant permission for in-school testing by completing this form, and help their children cope with the stresses that result from the ongoing pandemic.
The update emphasized that a switch to virtual learning remains a last resort. A virtual community conversation regarding the topics discussed in this update is scheduled to occur this Wednesday, Jan. 12, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. More details about this meeting are yet to be released.
Maya Britto. Hey, I'm Maya (she/her). I'm a staff writer here at SCO. I'm passionate about social justice, music, dance, food, quality time with my friends, ice cream (but strictly vanilla), and good bad jokes. Stay cool, y'all. :) More »