MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — With a little over two weeks until the start of the school year, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) are requiring that employees submit proof of their vaccination status, or agree to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. Face masks are also required indoors in all MCPS buildings, buses and facilities, regardless of vaccination status.
"The health and safety of our students and staff must remain a priority," MCPS Board of Education President Brenda Wolff said in a statement. "Although COVID-19 remains with us, MCPS intends to carry out its commitment to deliver in-person instruction, five days a week, for all of our students."
MCPS has put several other safety measures in place:
- Encourage the use of outdoor spaces for unmasked educational, recreational and social experiences for our students
- Facilitate continuity of educational services for students who are unable to attend in-person instruction due to the need to quarantine
- Provide opportunities for individuals to engage in proactive preventative measures, such as frequent hand-washing
- Remind students and staff that they must stay home when experiencing any possible symptoms of COVID-19
- Ensure school facilities will be regularly sanitized, equipped with cleaning supplies, and ventilation and air quality monitored
- Provide in-school COVID-19 pool testing for random samples of students in prekindergarten through 6th grade, since students younger than 12 are not eligible to receive the vaccine
- Communicate clearly, concisely and in a timely manner with families and staff as information becomes available
- Respond to changing conditions so that our students will not experience major disruptions in their education
A similar requirement for Prince George's County Public Schools employees was announced on Friday.
In a video posted to YouTube, Chief Executive Monica Goldson said employees would be required to either show proof of vaccination by August 27 or submit to weekly on-site testing.
"Like many of you, I am both concerned and disappointed by the rise of the COVID-19 variant," she said. "As science and data have shown, the best way to protect yourself against this highly contagious and dangerous disease is by getting vaccinated.”
According to Goldson, 12,000 public school employees "are already PGCPS Proud to be protected.”
Following the announcement, the Prince George's County Education Association said it supported the decision.
President Donna Christy, who worked as a local school psychologist for 24 years, told WUSA9 that the requirement still allowed employees to make a choice about how they would want to protect themselves and others from the spread of the virus.
"I think what we’ve worked out with the system is a compromised solution that allows for maximum safety with maximum personal choice," she said. "They can choose to be tested or they can choose to be vaccinated but you have to do one or the other in order to keep everyone safe.”
On Thursday, Arlington County Public Schools also announced that they would require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Aug. 30. The joint action will also apply to interns, volunteers, substitutes and contractors. Employees who remain unvaccinated will be required to be tested at least weekly for COVID for no cost.
The county reports 71.5% of Arlington residents 12 and older are vaccinated.