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Due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, Prince George’s County Public Schools will shift back to virtual learning for the entire student population from Monday through Jan. 14.

Schools will be closed for the winter break from Dec. 24-31 and then reopen Jan. 3.

School buildings are scheduled to reopen after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 18.

“Over the past few days, I have remained in daily contact with the Prince George’s County Health Department regarding appropriate steps for maintaining safe environments across more than 200 school communities,” schools CEO Monica Goldson wrote in a letter Friday. “Educators, administrators and support staff must be able to deliver in-person instruction and other activities in conditions that prioritize their own health, as well as the well-being of the school community. The increased positivity rates have significantly challenged the ability to do so, causing anxiety among many school communities and disruption to the school day.”

Parents and guardians can pick up instruction materials at their respective schools Monday, but will receive specific information on when to collect items from school leaders.

Meal distributions will take place Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon. A schedule for next month “is forthcoming,” Goldson said in the letter.

Three schools — Benjamin Tasker and Kettering middle schools and EXCEL Academy Public Charter School — closed its buildings Wednesday due to COVID-19 cases and students reverted to virtual learning.

The school system listed 69 buildings reporting at least one positive case Wednesday, 21 of them with multiple cases.

Some of the same schools and other buildings are part of 60 buildings that reported at least one positive case Thursday — 24 of them with multiple cases, including PGCPS headquarters.

Prince George’s continues to lead the state of Maryland in confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 102,000.

County data shows the weekly average of hospitalizations from Dec. 5-11 was 113, up from 91 the previous week.

Tonya Sweat of Accokeek, who is running for county executive, said in a statement Friday she and other parents heard about students returning to virtual instruction through news outlets before an official notice from the school system.

“PGCPS announced yesterday that it was closing three schools, and that should have been a warning that all schools would inevitably be affected,” Sweat said. “Instead of shopping for gifts and putting the finishing touch on holiday decorations, parents must scramble to alert supervisors that they can’t work next week or find an alternative. This is no way to manage a public health emergency, let alone the people most affected by it.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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