Montgomery County schools give update on reopening date

Montgomery County Public Schools told parents Thursday they’re committed to keeping kids in school and will have in-person learning starting Monday.

The district said they will maintain a robust testing program to identify outbreaks and will make sure staff have N95 masks.

FOX 5 spoke with a parent who agreed and one who disagreed with this decision.

Dr. Jennifer Reesman is a pediatric neuropsychologist. She sees patients with learning loss in her professional life and has a child at MCPS in her personal life.

Reesman says she’s seen firsthand the impact virtual learning had on children.

 "Personally and professionally, I can say that children have not made up for the lost time. Teachers are trying their hardest in the classrooms to help our kids, and unfortunately, what our kids need right now is more time in school instead of less. We should be talking about how can we extend the school year, how can we add hours," Dr. Reesman said.

Reesman emphasized she believes the testing and monitoring within schools is sufficient and believes school is safe for her child.


 Dr. Jennifer Philbeck is a professor at the Milken School of Public Health at George Washington University.  She is worried about her child going back to school and wants to see at least a one-week virtual learning start to 2022 while cases and hospitalizations in Maryland are monitored.

 Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that COVID hospitalizations in the state have eclipsed 2,000. Hogan says unvaccinated patients are driving the surge and announced a series of measures to help hospitals.

 Philbeck says she wants her child in school, but doesn’t believe it’s safe right now.

 "I understand that a lot of parents are concerned, for the welfare of the children, they need to be back to normal surroundings and be back with their friends and socialization is very important, especially young children. But we’re not talking about closing the schools for a semester again, we’re talking about a week or two," Dr. Philbeck said.

 The Montgomery County Public Schools’ plan does include a mechanism by which a school could close: If 5% of a school population tests positive in a 14-day span across the building, not just in one cluster. However, school officials emphasized it would moreso trigger a conversation with the Health Department to determine if a school should be closed, not to automatically close the school.