MCPS, health department ‘evaluating’ mask guidance from state
Montgomery County Public Schools leaders and Department of Health officials say they are reviewing new guidance from the state that eliminates the requirement for people to wear face coverings in school facilities.
On Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that on July 1 he will end the state of emergency declaration in the state, which carries a range of implications, including ending the face-covering requirements in schools and daycare facilities.
Just days before Hogan’s announcement, at a school board meeting on Thursday, MCPS leaders said they were planning to require masks in schools when classes resume in the fall. But they also said the decision was based on current rules and it could be reconsidered if new guidance was issued.
Asked whether Hogan’s announcement on Monday changed plans for face covering requirements for summer school programs or fall classes, a school district spokeswoman wrote in an email that MCPS was “checking with [county health officer] Dr. [Travis] Gayles and county officials.”
During a media briefing on Wednesday, Gayles said the health department will “continue to look at the data” and provide guidance to help MCPS make decisions.
“We work very closely with our MCPS colleagues and our non-public school colleagues about the pandemic, and we anticipate this will be another area where we provide some guidance on how to move forward,” Gayles said.
He noted that children younger than 12 are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. The best-case scenario, he said, would be that the Food and Drug Administration provides authorization by late July or early August.
“That would be a significant game-changer because we would be able to provide an added layer of protection to that group before we release them back to school at full capacity and potentially in environments where face coverings and other physical distancing and other public health measures are no longer in place,” Gayles said.
Former MCPS academic officer appointed superintendent of Charles County schools
Former MCPS Academic Officer Maria Navarro was appointed this week as the next superintendent of Charles County Public Schools in southern Maryland.
Navarro was the academic officer in Montgomery County for six years, until she resigned in June 2020 and began consulting work. She has recently been helping the county and school district prepare for an expected influx of unaccompanied minors to the county.
Navarro will replace retiring Charles County Superintendent Kimberly Hill.
In Montgomery County, Navarro helped expand access to pre-kindergarten and dual language programs, according to a press release from the Charles County school district. She also helped develop a new curriculum and expand career and technical education programs.
Prior to MCPS, Navarro spent five years as the chief academic officer in Baltimore City Public Schools.
Navarro holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in science education from Temple University and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from The George Washington University, according to the press release.
Charles County Public Schools has an enrollment of about 27,000 students. The district has 37 schools.
Washington Waldorf School switches to solar power
The Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda this week began using solar panels to power its school.
The 577 rooftop panels have an estimated output of 279,800 kilowatt hours, equivalent to the carbon impact of 44 cars driven for one year, according to a press release from the school.
Eric Holdsworth, chair of the school’s trustee’s council, said in a press release that the switch “is a very exciting development for the school.”
“Being able to generate sustainable electricity fits perfectly with our values as a Waldorf school, and is a great way for the school to help keep our planet livable,” he said.
Washington Waldorf School also uses composting, has native plant rain gardens and class gardens and has received the Montgomery County Recycling Achievement Award several times.
MCPS kicks off 10th year of fundraising for school supplies
MCPS has kicked off the 10th year of its Give BACKpacks campaign to raise money to buy and distribute backpacks and school supplies to students.
People can donate $10 to participate. MCPS will place throughout the summer “with a goal of providing as many students as possible with a backpack and supplies at the start of the school year,” according to a post on the school district website. The goal this year is to raise $300,000. Donations can be made to a specific school or cluster, or to the district.
During the 2020-21 campaign, supplies were given to more than 26,000 students.
Checks should be made payable to the MCPS Educational Foundation with “Give BACKpacks” in the memo line. Checks can be sent to: the MCPS Educational Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 1007, Rockville, MD 20849.