MCPS implements pandemic relief


Courtesy of Montgomery Community Media

The American Rescue Plan Act is a $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill granting MCPS $252 million to help schools remain safe for its students and staff.

As of Dec. 8, Montgomery County has the 8th highest percentage of individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 in the country, with 94% of people having received one or more doses of the vaccine and 81% fully vaccinated. To compare, the United States has around 71% of people with one or more doses and 61% fully vaccinated, according to US News.

Montgomery County is the most populous county in Maryland, home to over 1 million people. “These vaccination rates are the highest in the nation for communities with more than 300,000 residents,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said. “I want to thank the people of Montgomery County for believing the science and doing their part to slow the spread of this vicious virus.” 

This September, Montgomery County council members Hans Reimer and Will Jawando proposed legislation that would require all employees of the county to be fully vaccinated – those failing to do so would face unpaid leave. 

“It’s not easy, but our employees need us to stand up for them right now,” Reimer said, according to Montgomery County Media.  “And there are many of our employees who are going to work every day and they know that they are side-by-side with somebody who is refusing to take the vaccinations.” 

Receiving a booster or additional vaccination is now highly recommended given the escalation in cases of the Omicron variant. Everyone years 5 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; everyone years 16 and older is eligible to receive a booster vaccination.

To help schools remain safe for its students and staff, the US. has implemented The American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill put into action in March 2021. This act has granted the county three Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund grants so far, with the most recent one giving MCPS $252 million according to The Washington Post.

Following the state-declared state of emergency on Mar. 5, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the county has put many measures in place to protect its citizens. These include funding $89 million in special coronavirus premiums for county employees, establishing a full-time K-12 Virtual Academy as an alternative to returning to in-person school, and installing air purifiers and updated HVAC systems in all public schools.

Additional measures in regards to Montgomery County’s public school system offer support to students to enhance educational experiences in the midst of the pandemic.

“I know they [Montgomery County] have a rent relief program, they give out free lunches and they’ve been giving out Chromebooks,” freshman Ilana Vainstein said. 

In addition, for a student to be able to play winter sports for high schools, they must be fully vaccinated. All MCPS teachers and staff are mandated to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or, alternatively, consent to weekly testing. 

“We urge Marylanders to continue taking precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said in a recent statement. “Getting a vaccine or a booster shot is the single most important thing that you can do to protect yourself and those around you.”