MCPS approves phase-in for students in March


Infographic courtesy MCPS

MCPS outlines the student return schedule, which begins on March 1. This schedule was released on the MCPS Spring 2021 Recovery of Education Guide on Feb. 9.

March 13, 2020, was the last day of in-person school due to the pandemic. After 10 months of virtual learning, Montgomery County Public School’s Board of Education announced on Feb. 9 that in-school learning will be starting on March 1. Small groups of students will be phasing in to ensure the safety of staff and students.

On March 1, students in specific programs, such as Autism K-12 programs, special schools and extensions programs, will be allowed to attend in-person. On March 15, group 1.1- discrete programs and special populations, Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs, Multidisciplinary Education (METS), Career Readiness Education Academy (CREA), alternative programs and grades K-3- will begin their phase-in. Group 1.2- discrete programs and special populations, additional CTE programs, grades 4-5, grade 6 and grade 12- will phase-in no later than April 6. Group 2.1, which includes grades 8, 9 and 11, will phase-in no later than April 19. Finally, group 2.2, which includes grade 7 and 10, will phase-in no later than April 26. Specific days for groups 1.2, 2.1 and 2.2 have not yet been decided.

Junior year is a stressful time, with studying for standardized tests, beginning college applications and asking for teacher recommendations. Due to this pandemic, the school year and setting has been untraditional for juniors and although it would seem important for juniors to phase-in first, they are in group 2.1 and are going back no later than April 19. Nevertheless, juniors understand why seniors are phasing-in before them. “The fact that seniors are going back to school first doesn’t bother me at all and I think that it’s very explanatory. They deserve to go back first. I still feel a little weary about going back to school because there’s always a risk of something going wrong, but I think that if students go back little at a time or if there’s a block schedule it would be much safer,” junior Maya Chelar said.

Sophomores are last to phase-in. Even though they have had less than a full school year in-person in high school, students are not bothered by this and are more worried about the upcoming AP’s. “I’m honestly not so worried about going back to school besides the workload increasing and that the time we would be going back to school is just in time for the AP tests. The only difference I see is that other classes would have more opportunities to prepare for the AP tests in-school as opposed to my own,” sophomore Max Choi said.

With the Board of Education’s announcement, students have the option to either stay virtual or attend school in-person. The school day schedule will remain the same with the first period starting at 9 a.m. and the last period ending at 2:40 p.m. In addition, students will only attend school four days a week and Wednesday will remain an asynchronous day. To ensure safety, students will be separated into two groups: group A and group B. Principal Boldon has separated the groups by last name: A-K and L-Z. Each group will alternate between attending in-person school and virtual school every other week. For example, while group A is attending in-person, group B will be virtual and the following week, group B will be in-person while group A is virtual.

Students who ride buses will be arriving at school at 7:45 a.m. to accommodate transportation to elementary, middle and high schools. Between 7:45 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., students may engage in a support period. During this time students can meet with teachers and work on assignments. Students who have their own mode of transportation may arrive at school before the start of the first period.

Freshmen are the second grade to go back to high school, despite the fact that they do not know the building at all yet. Students are filled with different emotions and decisions to make. “It’s pretty exciting, but scary knowing that we’re going back to school with Covid. I trust MCPS enough to be responsible for the students who do go in-person. I don’t know if I’m going back yet, but I am considering it, if it is safe then. I don’t know my way around the school and I don’t want to go to school as a sophomore, not knowing where rooms are. It’d be awkward since I wouldn’t be a freshman at that point. I just want to be familiar with the high school environment so I don’t mind the seniors going before us,” freshman Amy Qin said.