PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) will reopen for in-person hybrid learning starting in April, the school district announced Wednesday. However, families will have the opportunity to continue distance learning through the end of the school year.
Chief Executive Officer Dr. Monica Goldson said the school district aims to strike a balance between safety, academics and mental health with the rollout of any learning plan during the ongoing pandemic.
“While we have made substantial investments to implement a virtual learning experience for all of our students, we know that nothing can truly replace the experience of interacting with their educators and classmates in a classroom," Goldson said.
Families will receive a survey as early as Wednesday and will be able to select whether they would like their students to stay all-virtual for the remainder of the school year or to start hybrid learning in April.
All PGPCS teachers will return to classrooms in March ahead of students.
The hybrid learning model will include staggered scheduling with students divided into two groups for in-person instruction on back-to-back days with appropriate social distancing in classrooms and throughout the school building, officials said. The remaining three days will be spent in distance learning sessions each week.
"As a school system, we have shown restraint in not rushing to reopen,” Goldson said. "We will continue to adhere to metrics for safe school reopening based on COVID-19 indicators."
WUSA9 spoke with three PGCPS parents Wednesday, all of which said they do not feel comfortable sending their children back to the classroom. Goldson said Prince George's County is different and unique compared to surrounding areas, as it has been dramatically impacted by the pandemic.
"You could drive to another county and see a rally where people are saying come back, whereas my community is a lot more cautious," Dr. Goldson said. "Our parents know loved ones, or they know community members, or they know next-door neighbors who are no longer with us because of COVID-19. And so they look at this experience totally different than someone who has not been intimately involved in experiencing the heartache and break and losing someone from COVID-19."
Goldson said she spoke with the state superintendent prior to the district's reopening announcement.
"She fully understands what our COVID-19 numbers are and every school district and county has a different issue to contend with, and I appreciate her and full understanding of where we are as a county," she said. "There's no secret it's been public around the county's vaccination plan as well."
Key dates to know:
Feb. 18: Telephone town hall with Dr. Goldston to discuss return plans
Feb. 28: Deadline for parents to complete return to school survey, electing for in-person or virtual learning for the rest of the year
March 10: Coaches can begin in-person afterschool conditioning and outdoor workouts
March 29- April 5: Spring break
April 6: Spring sports season practice begins
April 8: Phase 1 instruction begins, classes two days a week for all special education students in kindergarten through 12th grades; all students in Pre-K through sixth grade; and 12th graders
April 15: Phase 2 instruction will start for all remaining seventh through 11th graders
June 15: Last day of school for students
June 16: Last day of school for teachers
Dr. Goldson will discuss reopening plans with families and community members in more detail during a Telephone Town Hall on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. A separate town hall for employees will be held Wednesday evening.