Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Monica Goldson announced Wednesday students can return to their classrooms starting April 8.
Goldson said in a letter that parents and guardians can respond in a survey whether they want their children to continue virtual learning at home for the remainder of the school year, scheduled to end on June 15.
Parents are scheduled to receive the survey Wednesday and asked to return them by Feb. 28.
Teachers and central office staff will return next month.
April 8 will start the first phase of students returning with a two-day hybrid learning schedule for all special education students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Other students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade and high school seniors would return on the same day.
A week later on April 15, students in seventh through 11th grade will come back to the classrooms.
According to Goldson’s letter, a hybrid learning model “will include staggered scheduled with students divided into two groups for in-person instruction on back-to-back days with … the remaining three days” spent in virtual learning sessions each week.
Measures such as social distancing, air filters and personal protective equipment will be taken in all school buildings. The school system will make coronavirus testing available for students and staff.
“While we have made substantial investments to implement a virtual learning experience for all of our students, we know that nothing can truly replace the experience of interacting with their educators and classmates in a classroom,” Goldson wrote. “We believe this plan prioritizes health, safety, equity and excellence.”
Goldson will host a telephone town hall at 6 p.m. Thursday to provide more details and answer questions from parents.
Gov. Larry Hogan requested schools to provide a form of in-person instruction by March 1.
As of Wednesday, Prince George’s continues to lead the state in confirmed coronavirus cases with 71,402, according to state health department statistics.
Roughly 1,500 county educators, administrators and school employees have received at least the first dose of the two-shot vaccines available so far.
Theresa Mitchell Dudley, president of the county’s Educators’ Association, said the group’s members are pleased Goldson didn’t reopen the buildings based on Hogan’s self-imposed March 1 deadline, but that additional work remains, such as providing vaccines for educators and offering hazard pay for those teaching special needs students.
“If you’re a speech pathologist and you’re dealing with a student that ejects saliva from their mouth … there are a lot of things to be taking into consideration,” Dudley said. “As far as today and what we are looking at moving forward, pushing back on that March 1 deadline is a big thing. I think people are really catching their breath right now.”