Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Last-Minute Touches Made for PGCPS Virtual Learning

Nichelle Jahmani of Upper Marlboro resembles other Prince George’s County parents trying to prepare their children for a new experience with virtual learning on the first day of school approaching Aug. 31.

Although Jahmani’s able to work from home, she said communication between her children’s teachers and administrators and maintain structure are two key factors for a successful online learning environment for the first semester running through Jan. 29.

Although the married mother of three expresses concern for her two daughter’s education, her oldest child, a son, will experience limited activities to begin his senior year at Chesapeake Math & IT South Academy Public Charter School, also known as CMIT South, in Upper Marlboro.

“That is kind of a bummer,” Jahmani said Saturday, Aug. 15. “I’m also very nervous about the SAT and him not being able to take that. Because we are virtual, there has to be continuity without being in-person. We’re just going to have to figure out how we go as the school year [moves] along.”

School officials released a final reopening plan Friday, Aug. 14 which highlights elementary, middle and high school instruction.

Teachers may collect student work through a variety of ways, including Google Classroom, snapshots taken of work uploaded or emailed, oral presentations during live sessions and hard copies.

The school system also provided a list of student resources at https://www.pgcps.org/school-supplies.

There’s also some dates parents and guardians are asked to place on their calendars:
– View student’s schedules by Friday, Aug. 21.
– Distribution of iPads and Chromebooks during the week of Monday, Aug. 24.
– Department of Special Education virtual workshops Aug. 20, 27 and 28.
– Students can assess their schedules on Aug. 28. Also on that day, orientations will take place for students entering prekindergarten and kindergarten and those transitioning to middle and high school.

The plan highlights online instruction shouldn’t accommodate 50 to 60 students, but try and replicate an in-person experience. However, a big group could come together for a “special presentation” such as a concert, grade-level assembly, or other school performance.

Students will receive a lunch period, but instruction isn’t scheduled for Monday and Thursday to allow parents to pick up meals from distribution sites, according to the reopening plan.

A hybrid model will be examined from Dec. 1-18 to determine whether to provide in-person instruction at least two days a week starting Feb. 1. However, parents and guardians will have the option to allow their children to attend school or continue distance learning for the entire school year.

Prince George’s joins other school systems in the D.C. and Baltimore areas that will begin the school year through virtual learning. Prince George’s continues to lead Maryland in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, currently reporting more than 25,000.

“While there is no ideal approach to reopening schools during this crisis, I assure you that we have done — and will continue to do — our best to create a space for distance learning that is robust, engaging and effective without compromising equity and excellence,” PGCPS CEO Monica Goldson said in a statement. “We look forward to the day that our buildings are once again abuzz with discovery, the exchange of ideas, laughter and interaction.”

Although Jahmani didn’t watch some scheduled PGCPS virtual workshops, she received other education resources from the Northern Prince George’s Mocha Moms, a nonprofit community service organization that serves as “the premier voice for mothers of color.”

However, Jahmani supports Goldson’s decision to not hold in-person classes.

“There is more that we can achieve, but I am very pleased that she continued with the online learning,” she said. “I don’t think it is a good idea to meet in person right now. We have to educate our teachers on distance learning, and we have to educate ourselves to stay up with it.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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