MCPS Covid guidelines vs. what’s happening at school

Students+and+visitors+are+not+required+to+wear+masks+when+using+outdoor+spaces+for+experiences+such+as+at+the+varsity+football+game+against+the+Churchill+Bulldogs.

Photo by Maya Seiler

Students and visitors are not required to wear masks when using outdoor spaces for experiences such as at the varsity football game against the Churchill Bulldogs.

After over a year and a half since Montgomery County Public Schools shut due to the emergence of the Coronavirus, various restrictions and guidelines have been put in place by county officials. As school facilities have continued to stay open at pre-pandemic sizes and spacing, the question if county guidelines are being followed and agreed on has emerged among students and staff. 

MCPS students, staff, and visitors are required to wear face coverings in school buildings this fall, regardless of vaccination status. Approved types of face coverings include disposable masks, cloth mask coverings, gaiters and clear masks. 

Wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of the virus has been a prominent guideline that has affected staff and students’ daily routines. Senior Divya Bakshi said some students wear their masks properly, while others do not. Teachers have called out students who do not wear them properly and “walk around with it hanging off their face,” Bakshi said. 

Bakshi finds it to be irritating that students have been complaining while ignoring the face covering policies by not wearing their masks correctly when they walk around the building. “Especially at lunch, no one is wearing a mask and [students] are all on top of each other. Other than that, it looks pretty good about wearing masks,” Bakshi said. 

The county encourages schools to use outdoor spaces for unmasked educational and social experiences. Senior Shana Gittleson said she believes that physical distancing to prevent the spread of the virus has been difficult as there are crowds at school. “They took out the fields at lunch. I think that that is even worse,” Gittleson said.

In times when students may need to quarantine due to potential exposure to the virus, students will be marked as an excused absence and a code unique to county schools (QUA) will be assigned. This code helps the county monitor and track students who need to quarantine. 

I have never seen a student actually on the Zoom. I think if someone were to stay home sick, they’d just go to MCPS Classroom and do the work. I don’t think the teachers are offering a Zoom option at the moment.”

— Shana Gittleson

While students are in quarantine, they will be provided with learning materials and a Zoom link to attend live instruction with a designated quarantine teacher, who will provide direct instruction and review. In addition, students will have access to learning materials in the learning management system myMCPS Classroom (Canvas) and attendance will be monitored during quarantine.

In response to the Zoom policy, Gittleson said she believes that it is a good idea, however it has not been taken into initiative. “I have never seen a student actually on the Zoom. I think if someone were to stay home sick, they’d just go to MCPS Classroom and do the work. I don’t think the teachers are offering a Zoom option at the moment,” Gittleson said.

According to the county webpage on health and safety procedures for reopening this year, building service staff will continue to regularly clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in MCPS facilities; this especially applies for surfaces in restrooms.