PGCPS reopens buildings for optional in-person learning

PGCPS reopens buildings for optional in-person learning

Beginning in April, Prince George’s County Public Schools began implementing a hybrid learning schedule. This schedule divided student’s time between in-person and online learning. In-person students spend half of the week in school and the other half online. During in-person learning, the reopening plan will prioritize the student’s health and safety by following COVID-19 guidelines.

Phase Pne of hybrid learning will began on April 8 when schools received Special Education students from kindergarten through grade 12, and all students from pre-K through grade 6 and grade 12 students.

Beginning on April 15, Phase two began for students from grade 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11.

While in-person students have been divided up into two cohorts (A and B) depending on their last names to determine if they do in-person learning on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, on Wednesdays, all students remain online learners where they will have live access to teachers to ask for extra help and can participate in small groups, re-engagement lessons and interventions. Also, schools also returned to their regular bell schedule.

In February, PGCPS distributed surveys to families to determine if students should continue online learning or begin hybrid instructions until the end of the year. About 32 percent of families confirmed that their children would be attending school, totaling s about 42,000 students.

As for Parkdale, 740 students selected that they would be returning to hybrid instruction: Cohort A with 315 students and Cohort B with 389.  Since the reopening, many students who have elected to be in-person have, in fact, chosen to remain home full-time.

The reason why students won’t attend school is because of the safety concerns due to the pandemic. Madeleine McComb is a junior at Parkdale who chose not attend in-person school.

“Online learning is much, much safer and I am very glad that we were able to be online this year,” said McComb. “Regardless of safety protocols, the chance is too great in person.”

On the other hand, some students, like senior Charity Taylor, believe that the reopening of schools is actually beneficial for students.

“I’m glad that schools are reopening,” Taylor said. “I feel that a lot of kids have been having a hard time online school and reopening school buildings will help with that.”

Taylor chose to return to school because it’s been difficult for her to keep her grades up online. She feels that this will help her improve her grades. “I personally think that in-person learning is better because it is a lot easier to keep track of our work because you’re able to see your teacher every day and it allows you to interact with your peers where you create bonds with each other,” she explained.

For students who school, they MUST follow standard procedures for arrival/dismissal and face coverings.  Before attending, school parents must monitor their children’s health and keep an eye on their temperature. A school staff member will monitor the students temperature, and if the child displays any type of illness, they MUST stay home.  

Additionally, in-person learners are required to wear face masks in any PGCPS facilities and any PGCPS buses at all times. The only times students’ masks should be removed is when they are eating, drinking or exercising outside. Students will practice social distancing and must stay six feet away from their peers whether it’s standing or sitting.

For teachers face masks are mandatory, requiring 6 feet distance from desks and everyone has to wash their hands every two hours. They will also be hybrid teaching. Teacher’s desk will be positioned to allow staff to visually monitor in-person students while engaging distant learners. Teachers will assign seats to students.

Ms. Whitney McDonald, the American Sign Language teacher at Parkdale, revealed that she prefers teaching in person but understands the need to maintain safety during this time.

“I think the new policy and procedures won’t really affect my teaching as much. Although I’m not really looking forward to teaching in class and online at the same time, we’ve been given time to prepare,” she explained.  “I feed off of the energy of my students and it is very hard to convey via online learning but due to the circumstances, I’d rather all of us be home until it is completely safe.” 

Before the reopening, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) hosted  a series of telephone town halls to hear from and offer updates to families and members of the community about the return to in-person learning. The previous telephone town halls are pre-recorded so click this link to listen to the recordings.