In preparation for the Sept. 8 opening of the 2021-22 school year in Prince George’s County, officials in Maryland’s second-largest public school district detailed several health and safety protocols.
Hand sanitizer stations will be placed every 10,000 feet in the hallways inside each school building.
For students who forget to wear masks or face coverings, or experience damage to their masks, schools are slated to have a supply of masks readily available.
As of Aug. 25, county officials said about 57 percent of students 12 and older have received a COVID-19 vaccine injection.
Clinics for students in need of COVID-19 vaccinations, flu shots and other routine vaccinations will be held this month at Bladensburg and Northwestern high schools and the Cheverly Health Center. The schedule and requirements for immunization are posted on the county’s website.
The district will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which include desks three feet apart, windows pulled slightly down inside school buses for air circulation and buildings cleaned and disinfected at the end of every school day.
Because a vaccine for students under the age of 12 is not yet available, hand-washing sessions are planned for elementary schools. They will likely be conducted at 30-minute intervals.
Elementary students may eat lunch in their classrooms, or outside if weather permits.
Several lunch periods could be implemented for middle and high school students.
Public schools CEO Monica Goldson conducted a telephone town hall Aug. 25 to detail protocols for the upcoming 2021-22 school year.
In terms of virtual learning, Goldson told the estimated 30,000 listeners participating in the virtual town hall that a teacher will be designated to focus solely on children whose parents registered them to remain home. As of last week, more than 12,000 elementary school children are scheduled to receive online instruction.
Requirements are set aside for students registered for virtual learning in grades seven through 12 that include at least a 2.5-grade point average and fewer than 18 absences last school year.
A parent in the town hall asked if students could enroll in virtual learning after the deadline due to the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rising in Maryland.
Goldson said no, but explained how masks are required for students and school staff. If school employees aren’t vaccinated, then they must adhere to weekly, onsite COVID-19 testing.
“If there are any cases that arise in your child’s school, you’ll be notified,” she said. “Your safety, our staff’s safety and your child’s safety is of the utmost importance to us during this time.”
For more information on the upcoming school year, go to www.pgcps.org/about-pgcps/back-to-school.