MCPS Welcomes Back Nearly 20,000 Students

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Edward Owusu

With precautions in place, Clarksburg High School welcomed back students for in-person learning.

Sagun Shrestha, Editor-In-Chief

After over a year of virtual learning, MCPS welcomed back about 20,000 students on March 15 following 730 students two weeks prior, opening up all 208 schools in the district.

The March 1 return consisted of Special Education, which includes the Autism K-12 Program, Extensions Program, School Community-based programs, and Special Schools. The reopening also comprised Career and Technical Education with the Automotive, Construction, Cosmetology, Healthcare Professions, and Restaurant Management programs.

Other groups that returned included Grades K-3, Alternative Education Programs, the Career Readiness Education Academy (CREA), and Multidisciplinary Education, Training, and Support (METS).

“At first I was a little unsure about MCPS’s plan to reopen school, but after seeing how it works, it doesn’t seem as bad as I thought,” said senior Lavanya Dias Amarawardena. “I watched the CHS orientation video and it seems like they are taking the right measures to properly prepare students for students to come back.”

New changes include a health questionnaire for staff and students, required face coverings that will be provided as needed, hand sanitizing stations, increased spacing in the buildings and classrooms, elimination of supply sharing, frequent cleaning of facilities, and more.

“MCPS is committed to a path that returns our students to school buildings as quickly as

possible over the next few weeks and lessens the impact of COVID-19. However, because we

are unable to predict the path of the pandemic—should the present downward trend in

cases change—MCPS may need to revisit this plan to keep the well-being of our students

and staff at the forefront of our planning,” said superintendent Jack Smith.

Buses following public health guidelines will also be provided. Transportation times for general education students will be similar to traditional school year times, and support periods for older students will be in the morning to use the time between arrival and the start of first period. 

“For students who traditionally rely on MCPS transportation to get to school, they will still have the ability to ride the bus. MCPS will provide traditional bus schedules. Buses will arrive and depart from schools on a staggered timeline to ensure the safety of students as they leave and enter the building,” said SMOB Nick Asante in his newsletter. 

With safeguards in place, many are optimistic about the return to physical school, especially as MCPS works on vaccinating staff members to ensure their protection. 

“​I do believe we are on the right track for a safe reopening if we all, the entire community, state, country, can have a unified plan to take necessary safety precautions. Additionally, trust is necessary with the distribution of a vaccine. A large percentage of the population will need to trust in its benefit and take the vaccine,” said principal Edward Owusu.

Despite the many adversities that students and staff had come to face, the surrounding community did become stronger, even after a predominantly virtual setting. Like many schools, CHS will continue to provide breakfast and lunch meals to students learning virtually as well as providing meals for students receiving in-person. 

“We are all hurting and coming together has been a redeeming quality,” said Owusu. “Various groups and clubs have made efforts to unify their members and strengthen the Clarksburg community at large. Teachers have gone above and beyond for students and their families in so many ways that transcend any instruction. It’s about the people. That is wonderful to see.”