Changes to the School Calendar and Information on Phase One of Remote Learning in MCPS (Dr. Smith, 3/26/2020)

Dear MCPS Students, Parents, Staff and Community Members,

As we shared earlier today in our community message, Governor Larry Hogan and State Superintendent Karen Salmon have extended the closure of all Maryland public schools through April 24, 2020. In addition to our school buildings being closed until April 24, all extracurricular programs, athletic programs and community use activities are canceled. 

The district will continue to provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner meals to all children at more than 40 sites throughout the county. Details on times and locations can be found on the MCPS Coronavirus webpage. This is an incredibly difficult time for our community and we want you to know that we also will continue to provide supports and services to address the social-emotional, psychological and physical well-being of our students. These resources can be found here

As a reminder, MCPS will begin laptop (Chromebooks) distribution tomorrow, Thursday, March 26. Details are here. These laptops are reserved for students who do not have access to a computer or laptop at home. The distribution will take place outside of the school building (similar to our meal distribution sites). Families will not have an opportunity to enter the school building.   

Below are some important updates regarding the 2019-2020 school year calendar and the first phase of our continuity of learning plan. Rolling out a remote learning plan in a district as large as MCPS will undoubtedly take a significant amount of training and coordination. We have some of the best teachers, support staff and administrators in the nation and they are up to the task. We are confident that instruction in our new model will be delivered successfully and effectively.

School Calendar
On March 18, we shared that we would not be changing the current dates for our spring break. Given today’s announcement of the extended closure, we have revised our plan with support from our employee associations and will be making the following adjustments to the calendar: 

  • Schools will be open (for remote learning) on Monday, April 6,; Tuesday, April 7; and Wednesday, April 8 
  • Schools will be closed on Thursday, April 9; administrative offices will be open
  • Schools and administrative offices will be closed on April 10 (State holiday)
  • Schools and administrative offices will be closed on April 13 (State holiday).

We understand that this is different from what was originally announced. Please understand that this is a rapidly evolving situation and school districts across the nation are working hard to find ways to maximize opportunities to provide students with instruction in light of these emergency closures.  

Continuity of Learning: Phase One
MCPS staff have been working diligently to develop a continuity of learning (distance/remote learning) plan that addresses the academic and non-academic needs of our students. On Monday, March 30, we will launch the first phase of our remote learning system that will provide students with structured school experiences. During the week of March 30, students and families will have the opportunity to:

  • Reconnect with their teachers
  • Complete their end of the third marking period assignments
  • Take online tutorials to learn how to use myMCPS Classroom
  • Engage in online lessons (created by central office instructional staff) and practice interacting with the online tools and submitting assignments in myMCPS
  • Develop a home schedule that outlines when each student in the home will engage in their lessons

For our staff, they will be focused on:

  • Reconnecting with students
  • Participating in professional development on a variety of topics, including the use of new and familiar technology tools to support student learning
  • Setting up their myMCPS classrooms
  • Reconnecting with colleagues and professional learning communities
  • Working with students on third marking period grades and assignments

We ask that our community be patient and understanding with us as we make this transition.    We will share more details about phase one of our plan, including information on supports for Special Education and ESOL students, on Friday, March 27.

I am extremely grateful for our staff and how they are stepping up to meet this challenge as we face this global pandemic together. We will get through this together and we are better together. 

Sincerely, 

Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools