Maryland’s largest school system approves an unannounced pandemic-related calendar change

Another school calendar change in our region: Montgomery County Public School’s Interim Superintendent made a request on Tuesday for 2021-2022 school calendar change that will now include a few early release days and several days chosen for system-wide closure.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

The calendar modification, not previously announced before Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, came as a surprise, frustrating some school board members and parents alike.

For a week, FOX 5 had been asking what the school calendar modification item on the school board’s agenda entailed. As early as Tuesday morning, no details were given because plans were still being finalized, FOX 5 was told.

At around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday is when MCPS Interim Superintendent announced that she is proposing a pilot that would include three early release days for Jan. 12, March 24 and May 18 of 2022.

READ MORE: Montgomery County schools backing off employee vaccine mandate

The proposal also called for system-wide closures on Dec. 23, Dec. 27, Dec. 28, Dec. 29 and Dec. 30 during MCPS’ holiday break. April 13 and 14, part of the MCPS Spring Break, were also included in the closure request.

Lastly, a school closure was requested for June 20 to mark Juneteenth.

Dr. McKnight argued this change is needed so that teachers and staff may have additional time for planning to better provide for their MCPS students.

The School Board’s President also made note of how the half days requested really only total less than nine hours of instruction when MCPS is already exceeding state-wide minimum instruction time requirements.

READ MORE: Gun scares at Montgomery, Prince William County schools follow nationwide increase

One school board member called it "unacceptable" that the school board was given something of this magnitude or "consequence" to vote on, on such short notice. Some members voiced concern over not getting to engage the public on the matter.

Dr. McKnight and her staff did say on school closure days, childcare would still be available. The Interim Superintendent also noted the program is a pilot and school officials would be able to adjust to their needs on a school-to-school basis.

The Montgomery County Board of Education announced on Twitter Friday that they will meet on Dec. 7 to take action on the school year calendar modification.


The school board also unanimously approved Scott Joftus to fill the school board position made vacant after long-time board member Patricia O’Neill passed away.

Joftus will fill the position through Nov. 30, 2022 and is expected to be sworn in on Dec. 14 if a background check is passed.