Statement on in-person learning at MCPS

Dear Resident,

As a parent and community leader I’m incredibly concerned about the negative impact that school closures and virtual learning have had on student mental health. I believe that schools should remain open for in-person instruction whenever and wherever possible, although I recognize that the learning process will be disrupted this month under any scenario.

All of our students have experienced losses of one kind or another over the last two years – social, emotional and academic. Unfortunately, data shows that some of our most vulnerable children – children from communities that were already facing enormous challenges before the pandemic – are the most heavily impacted by learning loss. That is heartbreaking to me.

But the good news is that we also know the vaccinations are exceptionally good at preventing serious illness from Covid. Although it still feels very bleak, I do think we’ve come a long way from where we were a year ago, and we’ve gotten better at certain aspects of controlling the virus.

We are going to get through this wave. It would be unrealistic to say there won’t be significant impacts to learning while we ride it out – no doubt we still have a ways to go.

But I think that now is the time as a community to come together on behalf of the long-term well being of our kids by trying to keep them in school as long as staffing is adequate.

I will also continue pushing for mitigation measures that experts have said are effective, such as vaccination initiatives, KN95 masks for all, and air purifiers in classrooms. And I am pleased that MCPS is allowing secondary teachers to zoom kids in where feasible to allow families with heightened risk to better manage the wave.

Our community has done an exemplary job of rising to the need to take care of one another during this entire crisis. We have one of the nation’s highest vaccination rates and people have continued to wear masks and follow best practices to protect their neighbors. That is something we can all be proud of and something that really speaks volumes about what kind of incredible and exceptional place Montgomery County is.

I have confidence that this incredible community can also now step up and ensure that our children and our educators have the resources they need to succeed in the coming months as we hopefully put omicron behind us. We could not ask for a better or more prepared group of educators to help kids accelerate and begin once again to achieve.

I have been especially admiring of our MCPS teachers and staff, who have persevered through all of this stress and uncertainty. We know you are rolling with it and we are grateful. We know it has not been easy. I hope we can find more ways to support you as the year continues and I hope we can continue to have open dialogue about your needs.

We need to be moving forward on a multi-year recovery plan for success. That’s going to take vision and clarity and strength. And maybe a little faith in each other. We will need to address this enormous problem creatively.

We will get through this together. We can do this. For the sake of our kids, I believe we must try.