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Considerations for Recovery of Education in Second Semester

When state and local health officials determine conditions in our county allow for students to return safely after the first semester, we will begin to implement a phased blended model in the second semester (beginning February 1, 2021). Students will return to schools on a rotational schedule for in-person learning, with reduced class sizes and reduced numbers of students in the buildings. Due to limited capacity, transportation resources will be prioritized to elementary and middle school students. Students will return to classrooms by grade level, last name/address, and cluster in phases over the first months of the second semester. These recommendations will continue to be revised and refined throughout the first semester.

state of maryland
A message from Superintendent Jack Smith

Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff and Students:

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has been actively planning and preparing for the start of the 2020-2021 school year for several months. We were able to complete 75 percent of the 2019-2020 school year working and collaborating in classrooms, schools and offices. But on March 16, students stopped coming to school buildings and—to the dismay of us all—did not return before the school year ended on June 15.

Now, we are confronted with re-ordering and reimagining the school experience for the 2020-2021 school year.

As you can imagine, this work has been challenging and incredibly complex. We have discussed and evaluated several possible models for reopening schools and the truth is, there is no one option that can address all of the instructional, operational and logistical challenges that our school system is faced with. We recognize that the abrupt closure of schools in the spring and the uncertainty about the fall has caused significant disruption and stress for our families. We’ve taken into account the many perspectives families have shared with us based on their specific needs and circumstances. Most importantly, we know all of the options we consider must be examined through the lens of equity and excellence, and ensure the health and safety of our 166,000 students and 24,000 staff members.

The re-ordering and reimagining of teaching and learning cannot become an excuse for failing to maintain excellence and continuing to increase equity for MCPS students. Our students depend on us. And while it is not what we hoped for or could have ever imagined, we will begin the 2020-21 school year in an unprecedented way—including new health protocols, physical distancing and more.

I am pleased to share with you some of our initial considerations and planning for the fall. The MCPS Fall 2020: Reimagine, Reopen, Recover Guide provides an overview of a few of the recovery models we are considering at this time, in light of the information and guidance we have received from the Maryland State Department of Education and from our county health partners. I want to reiterate that this is just a draft guide and we will continue to amend, adjust and improve these recommendations as we receive feedback from you—our parents, staff and students. We know that you will have many questions and concerns as you review these draft options. We want to assure you that we will work with you every step of the way to address your concerns and questions in the coming weeks.

These considerations provide an overview of the safety protocols that will be implemented when students return to school for in-person instruction and the various instructional options that MCPS is working to make available for our students. The considerations are premised on continued positive health trends and staffing models based on current data. MCPS is committed to a path that returns our students to school buildings and lessens the impact of COVID-19. However, because we are unable to predict the path of the pandemic—should present circumstances change—MCPS will revisit these considerations so the well-being of our students and staff stays firmly at the forefront of our planning.

We take the immense responsibility of educating and creating opportunities for every single student seriously. Thank you for your continued support and collaboration as we work together to build a comprehensive plan that will meet the needs of our families, students and staff.


Jack R. Smith
Superintendent of Schools

state of maryland
State Requirements for Opening Schools

School districts must:

  • Complete and post recovery plans on the district website by August 14. The State Department of Education will review all plans. 
  • Address equity in all components of the plan. 
  • Establish a recovery plan stakeholder group that is representative of its schools and community. 
  • Assess all students to identify and address gaps in learning. 
  • Follow MSDE standards and provide instruction across all key content areas. 
  • Follow IDEA, 504 and ADA plus all other special education protocols and laws. 
  • Follow MSDE, state and federal health guidelines and procedures for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.
  • Follow MSDE, state and federal health safety protocols around food service, daily cleanings and other school operations.
  • Follow protocols for the safe transportation of students to and from schools.
  • Develop a system for tracking attendance when students are engaged in remote learning.
  • Develop a communications plan to reach its stakeholders. 

Our Guiding Principles


Ensure the Safety and Wellness of Students and Staff


Deliver high-quality instruction to students, regardless of delivery model


Equity: Ensuring All Means All


Optimize use of resources (Spaces and Materials)


Community and stakeholder engagement in plan development

Learning Options

The Choice is Yours


Blended Virtual Learning

Students will rotate between learning in classrooms and learning online, attending classrooms on an A/B schedule to reduce class sizes and the number of students in buildings.

Learn More

online learning

Virtual Learning

MCPS will offer comprehensive virtual learning opportunities for students and families who do not wish to participate in face-to-face instruction when the school year begins.

Learn More

Blended Virtual Learning – Model 1

Students Return in Phases

Implementation Schedule

  • Phases will last 2-4 weeks depending on school level and grade/age.
  • Phases may be adjusted based on changing public health conditions and implementation experience.
  • Details and dates will follow.


Students in specific special education programs and students new to a school level (Prekindergarten, Kindergarten, 6th and 9th) are the first returning to school.

back to school  

Rotating Schedule

  • As the fall semester progresses, MCPS will continue to work on models of blended virtual instruction in preparation for student return in the second semester. Our goal is to provide high-quality instruction and learning experiences for all MCPS students, whether in-person or virtually.
  • We are working diligently on plans for the second semester, focused on bringing back as many students as possible for in-person instruction on a consistent and rotating basis.
Rotating A/B schedule by grade level; student last name/home address; and school cluster for elementary and middle
ab sample schedule  
  • Subject to change and based on public health conditions and operational experiences as the schedule is implemented.
  • Families will have the option to choose a virtual-only format once the final schedule and reopening plan is released.
  • Sample schedules represent the starting point for our work to ensure that a high-quality instructional program will be provided when we are cleared to resume in-person instruction.

Blended Virtual Learning Sample Schedules

Elementary Schools

Students Return in Phases:

Phase 1 Prekindergarten, Kindergarten and students in specific Special Education Programs

Phase 2 Grade 1 and Grade 2

Phase 3 Grade 3 through Grade 5

See Sample Schedule

Middle Schools

Students Return in Phases:

Phase 1 Grade 6 and students in specific Special Education Programs

Phase 2 Grade 7

Phase 3 Grade 8

See Sample Schedule

High Schools

Students Return in Phases:

Phase 1 Grade 9 and students in specific Special Education Programs

Phase 2 Grade 10

Phase 3 Grade 11 and Grade 12

See Sample Schedule

Virtual Only Learning – Model 2

Robust Live Instruction and Engagement

All students will have live (synchronous) instruction and a full day of instructional experiences.

Student, Staff and Family Support

We will provide timely, relevant and differentiated supports and resources for students, staff and families.

Flexibility for Students and Families

MCPS is developing a process for recording lessons that families can access at a later time.

Elementary Schools

See Sample Schedule

Middle Schools

See Sample Schedule

High Schools

See Sample Schedule

Robust Health and Safety Considerations

MCPS will implement the following health and safety practices across all schools and offices:

smaple image Health Questionnaire

Health questionnaire for staff and students

smaple image Face Coverings

Face coverings will be required and provided as needed to staff and students.

smaple image Limited Access

Access to schools will be limited to students and staff as much as possible.

smaple image Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer will be provided, with hand sanitizing stations at building entrances, and in classrooms and shared spaces.

smaple image Physical Distancing

There will be increased spacing in the building and in classrooms with fewer students in spaces. Classroom layouts and arrival and dismissal processes will be modified to maintain physical distancing.

smaple imageTraining

Students and staff will receive training on COVID-19 prevention practices, including physical distancing and face covering use. Signage and ongoing communication will supplement and reinforce training.

smaple image Hand-Washing

Hand-washing will be encouraged throughout the day and required before and after meals

smaple image No Supply Sharing

MCPS will increase ordering of all school supplies to eliminate sharing, particularly at the elementary level.

smaple image Ongoing Support

School administrators will be provided ongoing support to ensure effective systemwide implementation of health and safety practices.

smaple image MCPS Issued Devices

MCPS will continue to provide Chromebooks and other devices to students as needs are identified.

smaple image Storage Space

Increased ordering of containers to provide storage space for students in classrooms.

smaple image Cleaning

Frequent cleaning of all MCPS schools, facilities and buses.


smaple image Transporting Students To and From School Safely

  • Virtual and partial in-person schedules must be aligned; current start and end times will remain the foundation of transportation and bell times schedule. First period for middle and high schools will begin at 9 a.m. Support periods for secondary students will move to the morning to accommodate time between arrival and the start of first period.
  • Transportation times for students in specific special education and CTE programs returning March 1 and March 15 will be shared directly with families.
  • Transportation times for general education students will be similar to traditional school year times and will be posted on the MCPS transportation webpage by March 1.
  • Note: Bus route times are approximate as two or more routes with fewer students may be combined and routes with many students may be split into two buses.
Bus Seating Capacity

Food Services

Meal Service

In addition to providing meals for students receiving in-person instruction, MCPS will continue to provide
breakfast and lunch meals to students at designated food distribution sites throughout the county.
More information will be posted on the MCPS Meal Service website. .

smaple image Encourage Bringing Lunch

Encourage students to bring their own meals as feasible, or serve individual grab-and-go meals in classrooms and in flexible spaces like the cafeteria, while ensuring the safety of children with food allergies.

smaple image Enforce Hand-Washing

We will enforce strict hand-washing with soap and water after meals.

smaple image Disinfect Surfaces

We will disinfect surfaces regularly.

smaple image No Sharing Food

We will continue to practice the “do not share” food policy among students.

smaple image Review Food Allergy Plans

Before school resumes, teachers and school leaders will review food allergy and 504 plans for all children with food allergies.



Learn how MCPS is preparing for students to return to a safe and healthy environment for learning in the fall.




MCPS will continue in Phase 1 of the Return to R.A.I.S.E. plan , which provides guidance for the virtual engagement of out-of-season activities and prohibits in-person activities, through August 11, 2020. All in-person summer conditioning and activities are cancelled through this time. Updates regarding the status of fall sports and program operations beginning August 12, will be provided by the end of July. Decisions will be made in alignment with state and county health guidelines. The latest information and updates regarding the operations of the MCPS interscholastic athletics program are available on the COVID-19 Athletics Information section of the MCPS Athletics webpage.

View COVID-19 Athletics Information

Results from the parent/staff surveys on fall recovery planning which took place June 22 through July 8.

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