Montgomery County Public Schools to temporarily shift grades 4-12 to online learning starting Monday

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Just a few days into the new school year, Montgomery County officials announced plans to temporarily shift older students enrolled in the hybrid learning program to entirely online learning amid a significant increase in Montgomery County’s coronavirus cases.

Starting Monday, Sept.14, Montgomery County Public Schools says students in grades 4-12 will participate in online instruction. Students will reportedly receive their remote instruction on their current schedule.

However, officials say the following students will continue to attend in-person classes on their current schedule: 

  • K-12 students with an IEP
  • K-12 students who are English Language Learners
  • K-12 students without access to the internet
  • K-12 students of employees
  • PreK-3 students as they are currently scheduled

This shift means that Montgomery County Public Schools is shifting to the “Phase 2, Level II” of instruction under the school district’s flexible reopening plan, which was designed adapt to the needs of the school and the community, according to officials.

Montgomery County Public Schools has only reported one positive coronavirus case — which was reported on Aug. 26 from Auburn High School — and according to the statement released by the school district on Thursday, Sept. 10, “there are no positive cases in our schools.”

Despite the lack of active COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County Public Schools, the number of overall cases in the county has climbed substantially over the past two weeks, as seen in the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) daily case counts shown below:

As of Friday, Sept. 11, health officials reported a total of 1,211 COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County, an increase of 71 cases since Thursday, Sept. 10. (Photo: Courtesy Virginia Department of Health).

“We know that the volume of cases in our community may be significant in the coming days. In consultation with the health department and the public health task force, we believe that this change is in the best interest of our students and the community,” Montgomery County Public Schools stated in Thursday’s message.

According to Montgomery County Public Schools, VDH expects new positive COVID cases will start to decrease before Sept. 21, which would be followed by several days of decreasing positive tests before Sept. 28.

However, while officials hope to return to “Phase 3, Level II” — which is the current instructional schedule — for all students on Sept. 28, they say they will continue to monitor coronavirus data to see if it supports extending “Phase 2, Level II” beyond Sept. 28. For more information about the implications of these phase and level designations for instructional plans, click here.

Officials say they notified families on Thursday in order to allow students the opportunity to bring home their Chromebooks and any other supplies they may need on Friday, Sept. 11.

In addition, families are asked to keep the following information in mind over the next two weeks:

  • Montgomery County Public Schools’ childcare centers will stay open. 
  • School buses will continue to run their current schedules to pick up students who are eligible to be in schools. 
  • Parents can contact the school to schedule medication pickup. 
  • No extracurricular activities will be held, including athletics. 
  • Meal pickups will be available at the high schools.

“We know that this type of change can be upsetting for students and families. We want to keep our students and staff members safe while also being responsible members of our community,” Montgomery County Public Schools stated in a message to families on Thursday. “Our teachers will do their best to bring some sense of normalcy to the online classroom environment.”

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