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Prince George's County Public Schools will continue distance learning into 2020-21 school year

On Wednesday, Prince George’s County reported its 20,000th case of the coronavirus.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Prince George's County Schools Chief Executive Officer Dr. Monica Goldson announced that the school system will continue distance learning for the 2020-2021 academic school year starting Aug. 31 until Jan. 29.

Dr. Goldson said school leaders discussed two learning models for students to resume instruction during the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders evaluated a distance learning scenario and a hybrid option that would allow students to do two days a week in-person and three days online.

After conducting a survey in June, leaders learned that teachers, parents, and administrators favored continued distance learning. With distance learning, students will experience a full five days a week of virtual instruction. Teachers will have the option to teach in their classrooms and small group instructions will be offered virtually. 

On Dec. 1, the school board will revaluate to see if they will begin a different model on Feb. 1. Parents will be able to vote on continuing distance learning or transitioning into the hybrid scenario, Goldson said.

Prince George's County has battled with the negative effects of the pandemic and according to state-by-state coronavirus case numbers tracked by the New York Times, the county now has more total cases, and more cases per capita, than 20 states and territories.

On Wednesday, Prince George’s County reported its 20,000th case of the coronavirus. The county leads the D.C. metro in COVID-19 cases for a number of reasons, as WUSA9 has previously reported. 

Prince George's County's coronavirus trend is now in better shape than the state as a whole. While Maryland has been on a slightly upward trend in new cases since late June, cases in Prince George's remain on the same downward slope they have been since May 30. And the county's percent positivity for coronavirus tests – which reached 42% at its peak – has now dropped to 6.5%.

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found 24% of teachers have underlying conditions that put them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

The Trump Administration has put increasing pressure on schools across the country to fully open with five days a week instruction, even threatening to cut off funding for school systems that resist. 

RELATED: Return to class: Maryland lays out plan for transitioning students back to in-person learning

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said that he "would not be bullied or threatened by the President."

The Maryland PTA, the Maryland State Education Association, and the Baltimore Teachers’ Union issued a joint statement Tuesday asking the state to start the 2020-2021 school year entirely online, at least for the fall semester.

Neighboring counties such as Montgomery County, are still finalizing reopening plans for its school system. They have introduced preliminary plans that would require elementary and middle schools to be split into two groups and high schools to be split into three. Each group will receive two or three days of in-person learning with remaining instruction online. There will also be an all-virtual learning option.

RELATED: 3 Maryland education groups call for 2020-21 school year to be entirely online

Charles County Public Schools, on the other hand, will start the school year on Aug. 31 with all virtual learning. Under the proposed plan students will receive four days of online instruction and Wednesdays will be independent studies for students to seek one-on-one meetings with teachers and counselors.

RELATED: Charles County Public Schools to start academic year via virtual learning

To view the list of school reopening plans in the DMV, click here.

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