Are Montgomery College Students Returning to Campus?

Understand How this Transition Will Happen



Erin Sigmon and volunteer Philip Walsh at Montgomery College. Photo by Michael Hyman

Miranda Garcia


With the Spring 2022 semester approaching, many students and staff are wondering about the nature of returning to campus after more than a year of remote learning. Many four-year colleges, such as the University of Maryland, have already transitioned back on campus, raising even more questions about when Montgomery College students will finally be back to in-person classes. The data of people being vaccinated continues to rise around the county, showing promise for MC students.

With vaccination rates in mind, Montgomery College is dedicated to bringing its students back to campus. So, the good news is: it’s happening. Furthermore,  this was only possible with the efforts brought on by the Return to Campus Advisory Team (RTCAT). The RTCAT is a continuation of the Coronavirus Advisory Team (CAT). The primary focus of the RTCAT is to look at the data and logistics that facilitate a safe and timely return to campus.

Members of the teamwork are focused on managing the anxious concerns of students and staff by continuously monitoring internal and external data. Positive cases and vaccination reports in the county and region are just one of the strategies used to determine our safe return to campus. The RTCAT works with MC’s senior leadership to make recommendations on what protocols to set in place. On Wednesday, September 29 the RTCAT hosted a student forum to dismantle any questions and concerns about the return to campus.

It’s important to note that Fall semester classes will not be affected by a return to campus as of right now. With this being said, several efforts are being made to ensure a rise in face-to-face classes for the upcoming Spring 2022 semester. Once the spring semester is here, MC will still offer remote and distance learning classes options for students who still want to continue learning in remote format.

For the students who choose to go back on campus in Spring 2022, some additional steps will be required by the Raptor community to ensure a safe return to campus before the semester begins. MC is keen on taking preemptive measures to ensure the mitigation of Covid outbreaks on campus. The following will be required of students, staff, and faculty in order to return to campus:

Proof of Vaccination– All employees must submit proof of vaccination by November 8th, 2021. Students are required to submit proof of vaccination by January 7th, 2022.

Daily Online Health Assessment- Those who come to campus must complete this online self-assessment. This short self-assessment is set in place to identify possible Covid symptoms in students, staff, and faculty. Data from this assessment is NOT saved or stored. The College will not be actively checking these assessments.

Following Mask Mandate- Face coverings are required to be worn correctly by all individuals who are indoors. This includes but is not limited to: students, employees, contractors, and guests- vaccine status does not affect this mandate. Masks are located inside every Public Safety building across all three campuses, and sanitation stations are dispersed across campuses.

Those requirements will only apply to students going back to campus; that is, students who intend to remain 100 percent virtual with no campus visitation (no campus services) are not required to submit to testing and vaccination requirements.

The RTCAT has made it very clear that ‘natural immunity or ‘built-up resistance of antibodies’ to Covid is not a substitute for vaccination. Any exemptions to the vaccine due to medical and religious purposes will require legitimate paperwork. MC will base the refusal of exemption for religious reasons on whether or not it is a sincerely held belief. Federal courts have made it clear that the College cannot inquire about beliefs themselves but is allowed to inquire about its sincerity. The RTCAT is working on protocols for submitting these exempt forms and recommends beginning any paperwork for this process before more details are available.

In the meantime, those exempt from vaccination are still required to get tested, submit online health assessments, as well as follow the mask mandate. In cases where symptoms are developed due to possible exposure, vaccinated people are required to quarantine for 10 days, whereas those unvaccinated are required to quarantine for 14 days.

The College is aware of classes that don’t blend well with remote learning and require more hands-on learning experience. Part of the scheduling process is to ensure that the demands of students are met – this includes offering a higher volume of said necessary classes.

Students who voiced concern about ventilation in smaller classrooms were reassured of the safety standards of all buildings. All of the College’s facilities follow all specifications required by Indoor Environmental Safety and Quality regulatory bodies. This brings up another concern: to what capacity are classes being offered? Courses are operating in a semi-reduced class format, although some remain at full capacity due to the high demand of students. The RTCAT will continue to monitor classroom capacities to ensure students are not packed in tight and closed spaces.

The return to campus can seem overwhelming – especially after the months of lost time we’ve experienced through the pandemic. Students who may feel stressed or overwhelmed with this situation are more than welcome to talk to those at the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHaW)! There are many resources and events that can support students through this transition. Click here to check them out!


Other resources for students who’d like to talk about the return to campus are available through the Psychology Club, which meets twice a month.

Through safe and healthy practices in our homes and our community, we can ensure a safe and timely return to campus for the Spring semester of ‘22!