Prince George’s County Public Schools officials said Saturday it may offer free summer classes this year, including some in-person instruction for elementary students and recovery credit courses for high schoolers.
Since the county continues to outpace the state in confirmed coronavirus cases with slightly more than 82,000, the school system may provide “incentive pay” for educators and support staff who work in the summer.
Howard Burnett, senior adviser to school system CEO Monica Goldson, said Saturday about 3,000 teachers registered to work this summer online and in person.
“The board and Dr. Goldson are working hand in hand in providing all of these different opportunities for our children across the county,” Burnett said during a virtual community session that lasted three hours.
The Coalition of Central Prince George’s County Community Organizations held its monthly meeting with county agency officials from eight departments, providing updates on education, trash collection and COVID-19.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks served as a special guest and spoke for nearly 30 minutes, though technical difficulties made her appearance audio-only — the first time she wasn’t able to show her face during the Zoom meetings.
“This has to be the most secured meeting in America,” she jokingly said.
On a serious note, Alsobrooks said the county’s COVID-19 infection rate — or the number of people each infected individual spreads the virus to — has fallen below 1.0. Health officials have said the figure should be .90 or lower.
About 310,000 county residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
A panel of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided Friday recommended resuming use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 10 days after the federal agency “paused” its use amid reports of six cases of “a rare and severe type of blood clot,” according to the CDC.
Alsobrooks reminded those who still haven’t been vaccinated that the COVID-19 clinic overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the Greenbelt Metro station opened April 7, but will only be there for eight weeks. About 65% of appointments are scheduled for Prince George’s residents.
“We need everyone to please utilize it,” she said.
In terms of education, Delphine Peterson asked about the resources disparity in the southern part of the county. Peterson, who said she’s worked in the school system for 20 years, said she was transferred to a school with no heat in the southern part of Prince George’s.
“Now that I have relocated from the northern area to the southern area, I have just been appalled by what I see,” she said. “We have to go out into our cars and sit and get warm on our breaks. The southern region has less resources than the northern region.”
Alsobrooks said about 40% of the county’s school buildings are at least 60 years old and that the system has a backlog of $8 billion in construction and repair orders.
The school board still voted nearly unanimously in October build six schools in three years through a public-private partnership, known as the P3 model. The majority-Black jurisdiction would serve as the first in the country to undertake a P3 project to construct several schools.
One of the new schools will house kindergartners through eighth graders in the southern area of the county.
Thanks to additional state funding, Alsobrooks said, the goal is now to build six more new schools starting in 2024.
“This is the kind of urgency that we felt was necessary to address this backlog,” she said. “We need your support. We want the public to continue to advocate the way that you have to indicate you want them now.”
Another topic of interest was trash collection. The Rev. John Richardson, president of the coalition, asked whether the county will give any consideration to not charging residents for dropping off bulky trash.
Timothy Richards of the county’s Department of the Environment said residents in pickup and box trucks and commercial vehicles are charged at least $10.
However, residents in cars, vans and SUVs can dump various items for free at the landfill off White House Road in Upper Marlboro, open Monday through Saturday.
Residents can drop off plastic bottles, cardboard boxes and other recyclable items at two centers on Brown Station Road in Upper Marlboro and Missouri Avenue in Brandywine. Both locations are open Monday through Saturday, though hours of operation vary.
For more information, go to https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/615/Brown-Station-Road-Sanitary-Landfill.