MCPS kindergarteners photographed by Elia Griffin on Aug. 28, 2023. Credit: Elia Griffin

At least three positive cases of COVID-19 in one Silver Spring classroom compelled Montgomery County Public Schools to institute a masking requirement through the end of the week limited to that class, according to school officials.

Rosemary Hills Elementary School identified “three or more individuals” within one classroom who had tested positive for the virus in the past 10 days as of Tuesday, according to a letter sent by Principal Rebecca Irwin Kennedy to the school community.

“At that one school and in one pre-K classroom there are four reported cases and per CDC guidance for an outbreak there will be masking in that one classroom until the end of this week,” MCPS spokesperson Chris Cram confirmed in an email to MoCo360.

According to Kennedy’s letter, Rosemary Hills is taking three precautionary steps to keep the campus environment “as safe as possible for in-person teaching and learning.”

Those steps are:

  1. Requiring masks to be worn “in identified classes or activities” for a limited period of time and distributing additional KN95 masks to students and staff in need.
  2. Sending students home with rapid tests and asking families to report  positive results to the school attendance office.
  3. Continuing to reinforce handwashing, cleaning and disinfection procedures.

Since the first day of the new school year on Aug. 28, MCPS has seen “several schools report classroom outbreaks,” according to school medical officer Patricia Kapunan. Cram did not respond to repeated requests for information on Tuesday and Wednesday as to which other schools have reported outbreaks and how such cases were handled by the district.


“In these cases [of classroom outbreaks], we remind positive staff and students of CDC recommendations for isolation and exposure, and notify staff and families with students affected by the outbreak of any required temporary measures,” Kapunan wrote in a statement.

The district is no longer requiring online reporting of positive COVID-19 cases or maintaining a districtwide dashboard for case tracking, according to Kapunan.

“Staff and students now report absences due to COVID-19 directly to their school or program, who notify our office of possible classroom outbreaks,” Kapunan wrote. “We work with schools to determine risk, identify temporary mitigation strategies, and to report outbreaks as required through the county health department. These procedures have not changed since last year.”


According to the Montgomery County COVID-19 surveillance dashboard, the community risk status for the virus is currently low, with an average of 32 cases for every 100,000 residents reported as of Sept. 6 and 3.17% of all inpatient hospital beds in the county occupied by COVID-19 patients. The risk level is considered medium when COVID-19 patients occupy more than 10% of inpatient hospital beds, according to the dashboard data.

“Though hospital admission rates remain in LOW risk status for our county, we continue to monitor these data and absence rates carefully, as a modest rise in infectious illness is typical of this time of year,” Kapunan wrote.