After months of online learning, students at Prince George’s County Public Schools will have the option to return to some in-person learning next month. Dr. Monica Goldson, the school system’s CEO, broke down the details at a county council meeting Thursday.
Elementary school, special education and high school senior students will return to some in-person classes on April 8, and grades 7 through 11 will return on April 15, Goldson told the county council Thursday. Students will only be in the classroom for two days of the week and spend the remainder online.
“Transitioning back to that hybrid model allows the opportunity for us to address any social-emotional issues that our students were experiencing,” Goldson said.
Students whose last names begin with letters A through J will report to school Mondays and Tuesdays, and students with last names beginning with K through Z will attend in-person classes on Thursdays and Fridays. This method will allow school populations to be cut by at least 50 percent than normal on any given day, Goldson said.
However, attending in-person classes is optional, as parents can choose whether to send their children back or not. So far, over 40,000 students — about 32 percent of the PGCPS student body — have signed on for in-person learning, Goldson told the county council.
In preparation for next month, teachers — many of whom are now vaccinated — returned to schools on Wednesday for the first time since the pandemic started to complete professional development training, Goldson said. Hallways now have social distancing signage, and Goldson said bottled water will be available in lieu of water fountains, which have been turned off.
There will also be a COVID-19 compliance committee in each school building to ensure adherence to safety measures. In addition to rapid tests, “care rooms” will be available for any student or faculty who is exposed to the virus or displays symptoms.
Bus transportation will still be offered, but capacity will be limited to 21 students. Many parents, Goldson said, answered in a questionnaire that they would opt to bring their children to school instead.
The April 8 return date diverges from state directives to have students return to a form of in-person learning by March 1. However, Goldson told the county council she’s been in contact with the state superintendent about the county’s reopening plan.
“While we fully understand that the change of moving to in-person learning was not the choice that all of our families made,” Goldson told the county council. “I am grateful that we are going to be able to provide some support and services to 42,000 families who have made the decision to return.”