Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Prince George’s Prepares for Summer School Programs

With the academic year for Prince George’s County Public Schools ending Monday, June 15, Maryland’s second-largest school system now prepares for summer classes.

The Maryland Department of Education, coinciding with a phase-in recovery plan from Gov. Larry Hogan on allowing more businesses to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, all 24 school systems can offer in-person summer school instruction with groups of 10 to 15 children per classroom.

But the Prince George’s public schools summer schedule shows all programs will be conducted via distance learning and online, as the majority-Black jurisdiction continues to lead the state in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

“Although this school year has been challenging, I’m proud of the man ways students, families and staff members have supported each other,” said public schools CEO Monica Goldson. “It’s been inspirational to see our unstoppable Class of 2020 rise above the obstacles and succeed.”

The pandemic has forced Prince George’s and other school systems to use online instruction, with the county’s school buildings closed since March 16. Several indoor summer camp and academic programs aren’t available this year. However, the county will provide summer school courses for the entire month of July.

Parents can enroll their children with special needs in the extended school year program that runs from July 6-30. Students enrolled in JROTC can participate in a virtual Cadet Officer Leadership Program (COLP) from June 22-26.

Other enrichment programs such as college and career readiness, International Baccalaureate and CTE Careers Explorers Camp will run certain weeks in August.

Other science and technology, math and other programs hosted at various schools in August can be reviewed at https://bit.ly/2YAo4xY.

In terms of how education will resume in the fall, that remains undetermined. However, the school system could receive up to $30 million in federal Education Stabilization Fund through the CARES Act, the economic stimulus package approved by Congress to help states with budgetary problems due to COVID-19.

The money can be used to purchase items such as masks, gloves, sanitizing equipment, technology enhancements and summer programming. According to the time frame on the school system’s website, officials must apply by July 12 with the money designated to use on items between March 13 and Sept. 20, 2022.

Goldson said another goal will be to purchase iPads and laptops “to ensure we become a one-to-one district” for the next school year.

The school system can receive additional money from the CARES Act based on an additional $46 million for Maryland from a governor’s emergency education relief grant. However, Hogan would distribute the money for each of the state’s 24 school systems and the application process remains pending.

Last week, Maryland superintendent Karen Salmon said during a briefing before two House committees the current focus statewide will be on summer education.

However, she said each school system must present a recovery plan for the next school year and post it individual websites by Aug. 14.

The plans must include protocols and guidance for a person who tests positive for COVID-19, a system to track attendance, adequate technology, and the establishment of a stakeholder group that represents the community.

In terms of the CARES Act money, the state plans to receive $207 million for elementary and secondary school emergency relief. Within that, another $45.5 million will go toward child care programs and its providers and assisting families below a certain income level.

Salmon said it remains unclear on how much more money will be needed when the 2020-21 school year begins, especially for transportation and food.

“It’s going to be really hard to figure out how to transport kids,” she said. “If we don’t go back full-time, what do we do with meals? We’re going to have to provide meals in school. We’re also going to have to provide our meals out of school. Is there going to be enough money to keep us going?”

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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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