Montgomery County Public Schools officials last week estimated that at least 70% of its employees have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. Others remain unvaccinated, despite an early push to offer a shot to all employees.
During a school board meeting last week, MCPS Chief of Teaching, Learning and Schools Janet Wilson said an estimated 25% to 30% of the district’s 25,000 employees — roughly 6,250 — have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Wilson did not give more information, but the number aligns with data MCPS provided to the state Department of Education in March that showed about 75% of district employees requested a vaccine.
Early this year, MCPS and county health officials committed to offering all public and private school staff members a vaccine as part of a push to reopen schools after more than a year of closures and virtual classes. The county met its goal by mid-March, and many employees reported getting a vaccine through private providers or at mass vaccination sites.
Now, the number of available vaccines outweighs the demand as the state has reached a key milestone of vaccinating more than 70% of the population. Montgomery County has reported that about 61% of its residents have at least one shot.
Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Mary Anderson wrote in a text message Tuesday morning that the department does not track how many private school employees in the county have been vaccinated.
With plans to reopen schools full-time in the fall, MCPS’ interim superintendent, Monifa McKnight, told the school board last week that employees will be expected to return to buildings, regardless of their vaccination status.
“We are expecting [the] staff back to accommodate the in-person experience,” McKnight said.
The exception will be teachers designated to lead a new “virtual academy” for students who cannot return to buildings for health or other personal reasons.
But the in-person schedule will be the “default” and every student who wants to be in a classroom in the fall “absolutely will,” she said.
A more comprehensive plan for the fall semester is expected to be presented at a school board meeting in June.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org