The MCCPTA Executive Committee reiterates our firm belief that clear, timely, and transparent communications are the foundation of a strong partnership between families and MCPS. While we recognize the challenges faced by MCPS during the COVID response, communicating to parents and other stakeholders about COVID-19 must be MCPS’ immediate priority.

As COVID cases increase across the country and within our community, understanding what possible actions MCPS is planning is critical. Without clear communications, rumors abound and informal communication channels result in misunderstood or completely erroneous assumptions by families. What the families of MCPS need is clear, timely, and transparent communications from official MCPS sources.

MCPS Central Office needs to provide clarity to the community on:

● Is MCPS considering site closures? If so, what parameters will MCPS use to determine if closure of a school, cluster, area, or the whole district is warranted? When will information be shared so families can understand where we are in relation to those triggers?

● If closure is required by the State, have protocols been developed to usher high incident schools into an alternate learning environment for a discrete period of time? If so, when will information be shared so families can begin to prepare for potential impacts. If not, when can we expect these protocols to be developed and communicated?

● With the surging cases and the holiday travel and gatherings expected over the next few weeks, what, if any, additional testing protocols are planned for the January return?

We urge MCPS to implement the following communications strategies as a matter of urgency:

● An urgent press conference/town hall with Dr. McKnight and her senior leadership team to respond to the questions above and any additional questions from the press or the community;

● A robust communication that addresses current case numbers and how “Test to Stay” is being deployed;

● A public document sharing the protocols and triggers for potential closures;

● A system-wide communication about the actions that will be taken based on the athletics outbreaks and routine testing since these are presumably all breakthrough cases;

● Being honest and transparent about how and when decisions are made, and who has the authority to make particular decisions, such as decisions around school closures and changes to quarantine policies;

● Continued and timely system-wide centralized communications about vaccine rates, locations of booster clinics, and locations of clinics for children 5-11.

Since before the start of the pandemic, MCCPTA leadership has consistently urged MCPS to place clear, transparent communication with families at the forefront of its priority list.

Unfortunately, we have not seen much improvement. We sincerely hope that MCPS leadership and the Board of Education will finally take on the challenge of transparent and timely communications.

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