2021-2022 School Year FAQ's
Posted August 19, 2021
2021-2022 School Year FAQ's
August 19, 2021
All plans, protocols, and procedures are subject to change with little notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is WCPS requiring students and staff to wear face masks in school?
WCPS is requiring all students and staff to wear face coverings on all school buses in accordance with a federal transportation order.
Masks are also required for all individuals inside school buildings to start the school year, regardless of vaccination status. This additional initiative for masking indoors will help schools avoid mass quarantines of students. Under an exception for school-age students, students who are sitting three feet or more from a student who tests positive for COVID-19 will NOT need to be quarantined as long as the infected student and the exposed student(s) were wearing face coverings consistently and correctly. WCPS is committed to keeping students in schools for consistent in-person instruction, and this measure will support more students having this opportunity.
Face masks should fit securely over the mouth and nose. Face shields are not considered a face mask under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines.
At what point can masks become optional again?
WCPS will require students and staff to wear masks as long as Washington County is in the CDC’s “high” level of community transmission of the virus. When Washington County moves into the “substantial” level of community transmission, WCPS will review other factors (for example, the number of COVID cases in schools), to re-evaluate mandatory masking. When Washington County is in the “moderate” or “low” levels of community transmission for two consecutive Fridays, students and staff will have the option to wear masks in schools. WCPS will send communications to inform families of any changes to the mask requirements.
Locate the drop-down menus to select “Maryland” and “Washington County” to view data.
Do masks need to be worn outside?
Students and staff may choose whether to wear a face covering outside. If students or staff are within six feet of a COVID-positive individual for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, they would be considered a close contact and directed to quarantine.
Will students have to wear masks when playing sports and extracurriculars?
Student athletes engaged in practice and competitive play will not be required to wear masks. Athletes on the sidelines or during breaks at practices should mask unless 6-foot physical distancing can be maintained. All athletes playing sports that take place inside will mask on the sidelines and during breaks regardless of the ability to physically distance. Athletes and coaches will wear masks while riding buses to games and matches.
Games and events will be open to families and fans without ticket limitations. Spectators at indoor events must wear masks at all times regardless of vaccination status.
My child has a health condition and cannot wear a face covering. What do I need to provide to the school to consider an exemption for my child?
Parents will need to obtain a doctor’s note from a licensed provider indicating the student’s diagnosis or condition and why a mask should not be worn throughout the day. These documents should be provided to the school nurse and will be reviewed by the School Health Office. A determination will be made if an accommodation is required, and the decision will be communicated with parents as soon as possible. During the review period, the student will be required to wear a face covering.
What will happen if a student refuses to wear a mask in school?
At this time, all students and staff are required to wear face coverings. If a student refuses to wear a mask, the student will be removed from the classroom, and the student’s parent or guardian will be required to pick up their child.
Will my child’s school hold back-to-school night activities before the start of the school year?
Schools will contact families to share more information about how these events will be held if additional adjustments are necessary. Adults and children will need to wear masks to attend.
What is WCPS doing to promote physical distancing in schools?
With schools returning to full capacity, students will be three feet apart to the greatest extent possible. Classrooms have been adjusted to accommodate greater distance between work spaces. Teachers may hold classes outside in favorable weather or have students work in small groups to avoid cross-contamination, which could lead to more student quarantines.
What other measures are being taken in schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
WCPS is continuing health and safety protocols that proved effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19 over the last school year. Those measures include, but are not limited to:
- Physical distancing. Staff will maximize space between students to the greatest extent possible.
- Contact tracing. WCPS has a COVID-19 Response Team that completes a thorough contact tracing process when a positive case of the virus is reported in schools. The team notifies students and staff who are identified as close contacts and provides the Washington County Health Department’s directions for quarantine. Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 should contact their school principal and email responseCOVID19@wcps.k12.md.us.
- Enhanced cleaning protocols. High touch surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day. Staff will thoroughly clean and disinfect classrooms with state-of-the-art equipment and cleaning solutions. Each classroom has air purifiers that clean and disinfect circulated air.
- Encouraging healthy habits. All schools are equipped with a supply of hand soap and hand sanitizer, which will be available in multiple locations. Students will be encouraged to wash their hands throughout the day. Students and staff who are sick should stay home.
Will virtual learning be available if my child has to quarantine?
In April 2021, the Maryland State Board of Education decided that all schools must be open for students to receive at least 180 days of in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year. Based on this directive, virtual learning will not be available for students during periods of quarantine. WCPS is seeking additional guidance from the Maryland State Department of Education regarding this topic and will update families as needed. In the meantime, WCPS plans on providing students assignments to complete during an extended absence and school staff will be available to provide additional help and instruction to students upon their return.
Can I still enroll my child in the Academy of Blended Learning Education (ABLE)?
ABLE is a program for students who wish to remain engaged in virtual learning for the duration of the 2021-2022 school year. It is not intended for students to switch between ABLE and in-person learning as changes arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Enrollment for ABLE is currently closed. If you would like your child to be added to a wait list for consideration, please contact the school at 301-766-8162.
May I volunteer at my child’s school this year?
In accordance with CDC guidance, “Schools should limit nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations, particularly in areas where there is moderate-to-high COVID-19 community transmission.”
Principals will limit volunteers to ensure that classes are not overly crowded. Volunteers must follow all WCPS COVID-19 protocols applicable to students and staff, including whatever masking mandate is in place at the time. School buildings may still be used by school groups and community organizations. All masking and distancing rules in place at the time of the event shall be followed.
When is the first day of school? When is the last day of school?
The first day of school for the 2021-2022 school year is Monday, August 30, 2021. Students will be attending school in person, with the exception of students who are enrolled in the new WCPS virtual program, ABLE.
The last day of school for the 2021-2022 school year is Tuesday, June 14, 2022. This date assumes WCPS uses six inclement weather days. In other words, WCPS builds six “snow days” into the school calendar. If WCPS does not have to use all of these built-in make-up days at the end of the school year, an earlier “last day” for students may be announced in the spring. If more than six inclement weather days are used, further adjustments may be made to the calendar.