Montgomery County's back-to-school plans shifting due to COVID concerns

Montgomery County schools are set to open their doors on Monday, but already there have been some changes to their back-to-school plans that stem from concern over the COVID-19 delta variant.

Back-to-school nights planned for this week are going virtual, but some parents say that doesn't go far enough.

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There has been a growing movement by parents to have the school board move lunch outdoors where students could take off their masks safely to eat. Some parents even demonstrated at a meeting of the Montgomery County School Board.

The board said Tuesday they're encouraging principals to use outdoor space for lunch and could reimburse PTA's for picnic tables or other items.

However, parents say this needs to be a county-wide policy so lunch outbreaks don't occur and jeopardize classes.

"We’re really hoping for outdoor lunch because we want to keep schools open," one parent said. "We know that COVID doesn’t transmit as much when we’re outside."

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"There’s a lot of pressure on the principals, so we’re really asking the board to support them and give them the options so they can make these choices for their school," another parent said.

The board presented its plan for reopening Tuesday which lays out how MCPS will welcome back 160,000 students at 209 schools.

The plan is to be back in the classroom five days a week with a return of school sports and details on quarantine contingency plans if COVID outbreaks occur.

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"But this year is a little different and right now we have to think about how those school spaces really remain safe and a priority for the staff and the students who have to be in those spaces, so that’s one measure we’ll take that will be different for us this year," says MCPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight.