Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Monica Goldson announced Wednesday that Maryland’s second-largest school system will begin the 2020-21 school year with a distance-learning model.
Since the county has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, Golson said no in-person education will happen from the first day of school on Aug. 31 through Jan. 29.
The plans to shrink a digital divide in the schools will include Wi-Fi access for certain families, distribution of technology devices and teaching through the school system’s local television broadcast.
“We all want to have our children and our staff back in buildings the way that we used to,” she said. “Unfortunately, we’re not a time where I feel comfortable that we could move forward with excellent delivery of our instruction and keeping our children safe physically being in our buildings.”
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, about 46 percent of 18,000 people who participated in a PGCPS survey preferred to continue school at home full-time.
Another 42 percent want a hybrid form of distance learning and in-school instruction, according to the district survey. About 12 percent want students back in the buildings five days a week.
In the meantime, students will receive distance learning five days a week. Small group instruction will be offered for English-language learners and special needs students.
The school system with 136,500 students and 206 schools plan to offer meals at least twice a week, based on a similar plan offered in the final months of the previous school year. The goal would be to come up with a strategy to offer meals five days a week.
Activities that won’t take place in the fall are interscholastic sports. The list of fall sports includes football, soccer and volleyball.
A comprehensive draft report will be released next week to detail how the school system will support students. The school board will hold a special meeting later this month to review the plan.
Goldson said a hybrid model will be examined Dec. 1-18 to provide in-person instruction at least two days a week, but wouldn’t begin until Feb. 1. Parents and guardians will have the option to allow their children to attend school or continue online and distance learning for the entire school year.
Goldson will host a community town hall at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and another one at the same time Thursday with school employees.