MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to begin bringing small groups of students back into the buildings on March 1.

The phased reopening will begin with bringing special learners and technical program students back into the buildings. Two weeks later on March 15, its four-phased larger-scale reopening will begin for the rest of MCPS students opting to return to in-person learning.

MCPS will continue utilizing Wednesdays as an all-virtual day and will clean the buildings then. Many of the classes will continue on an A-B schedule, rotating when students are in school and when they are learning virtually.

Margery Smelkinson is an infectious disease expert with 4 children in MCPS and is a leader in Together Again MCPS, a parent-led volunteer organization representing thousands of MOCO parents and students.

Smelkinson said, “The board has to assure us that the deadlines are going to be met, and frankly, they could pick up the pace with the phasing in. MCPS has put forth a plan to phase in over about two months. So some of the students that are being phased in last are coming in at the end of April. So, you know it doesn’t have to be this slow. It ignores the urgency from Hogan’s directive when he asked schools to open.”

Montgomery County Public Schools says the reopening plan has always been based on health metrics, not vaccination numbers. Also, all students have the option to remain completely virtual.