MCPS introduces virtual learning option on closure days


Courtesy of MCPS

MCPS has announced a new colored system which informs families what operational level MCPS is at on specific days.

The Tide Staff

Montgomery County Public Schools announced a new plan for virtual learning on snow days during the Board of Education meeting held Thursday, Jan. 12. A new color code system has been created to indicate the school district’s response according to the severity of winter weather, with Code Green being a normal school day and Code Purple being full virtual learning.

According to the MCPS website, “The approved plan [for Code Purple] has been sent to [Maryland State Department of Education] and…can be used after receiving final approval. MCPS said it would consider how families and individuals may be affected by the changes. Therefore, the new changes are only confirmed when the school board feels that it is completely necessary and that any harmful impact can be minimized. 

“It is important that students experience as few learning disruptions as possible. For that reason, MCPS will consider a transition to virtual learning when schools are closed due to inclement weather…These are days when the district would otherwise determine that a system closure would be needed for safety reasons,” MCPS said in a posting.

The Code Purple status will ensure MCPS will continue learning during inclement weather emergencies with help from the virtual learning infrastructure that was put in place during the pandemic. The plan includes essential guidelines so that staff and students can be fully prepared.

Frequently asked questions: 

What are the color codes and how do they work?

There are six color codes that will be used to communicate closures, delays, or possible shifts to a virtual learning day. Code Green indicates a typical school schedule, Code Yellow means a two-hour delay, and Code Blue is an early closing of 2.5 hours. Code Orange means schools are closed but offices are open, Code Red indicates all parts of the school system are closed, and Code Purple means a shift to a virtual learning day. 

Will this affect all snow days?

It won’t affect all the snow days, just the ones that are anticipated. Snow days that come out of nowhere won’t be affected.

When will virtual learning days occur?

These synchronous days will take place on days with severe weather that makes it unsafe to continue in-school instruction as usual. 

Will there be any normal snow days?

Yes, normal snow days will remain. If the event is not predictable, there will be no virtual learning. MCPS will take into account how much preparation schools had before having school virtually. MCPS will also determine whether or not to have remote learning based on whether the event is isolated or a multi-day case.

How will people know when virtual learning days occur?

A “Get Ready,” announcement will be made by noon the day before the weather event if schools are offering virtual learning. Schools will contact families and students with the virtual schedule and additional, school-specific information. This information will be distributed through ParentVUE and StudentVUE.

Why did MCPS decide on this?

This decision was made to ensure that students experience as few learning disruptions as possible. 

How will MCPS decide whether or not to have a virtual learning day?

MCPS has multiple means to determine whether the county will transition to a virtual learning day. MCPS leadership will factor in the probability of the weather event if the event will take multiple days, and whether or not teachers will have time to prepare lesson material. Additionally, weather experts, local emergency management, state highway administrators and local school districts will be consulted. State highway administrators will inspect the travel conditions.

Will it follow a normal bell schedule, just online or the COVID 2020 schedule?

In order to allow time for students and staff to adjust, log in and access resources on an inclement weather virtual learning day, students would be on a two-hour delay schedule. There will be a minimum of four hours of synchronous instruction.