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Top PGCPS Return-to-School Questions Answered (Part 1)

COVID-19 Quarantine

Q: If a COVID-19 outbreak happens in a classroom and a student has to quarantine, will that student then be allowed to participate in virtual learning?

A: Students will be provided work to complete during that time but will not be taught alongside students in our Virtual Learning Program/Online Campus.

Virtual Program

Q: How does the K-6 Virtual Learning Program work?

A: The K-6 virtual option is designed as a temporary option until students under the age of 12 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. This option was made available to all families at the end of last school year under a June 30 deadline. Given the rise of the delta variant and increased demand for a virtual option, we reopened program applications in August to accommodate additional students.

Q: My child was accepted into the K-6 Virtual Learning Program. When will more details be available?

A: PGCPS notified all families, both previously accepted and, on the waitlist, that we can accommodate all students who applied. Parents will have received direct communication from their school’s principal by September 3 about individual virtual learning schedules. Depending on the numbers, students will have a seat in the virtual learning classroom at their school or across schools.

Q: Is it too late to sign up for K-6 virtual learning?

A: Yes. This program is at capacity and additional students cannot be added for staffing reasons. We have made every effort to accommodate as many students as possible.

Online Campus

Q: How will the 7-12 Online Campus work?

A: The Online Campus is a new full-time specialty instructional program for students in grades 7-12 who thrived in a virtual environment. This is not a short-term program in response to the pandemic. Applications to the program are closed for the 2021-22 school year. To be eligible for the Online Campus, students must have had a 2.5 or higher GPA and fewer than 18 absences during the 2020-21 academic year.

Q: Can Online Campus students still participate in sports and/or extracurricular activities?

A: Yes. Students enrolled in the Online Campus may actively participate in sports and school-based extracurricular activities.

Q: Why isn’t PGCPS offering virtual learning options for 7-12 students beyond the specialty Online Campus?

A: PGCPS does not have the staffing capacity to provide in-person and virtual learning at the middle and high school levels. Elementary students are generally in one cohort for classes, which is not the case for middle and high school students.

Virtual Options

Q: Why aren’t there virtual options for pre-K and charter school students?

A: Prekindergarten is not mandatory under state law. In addition, PGCPS found that virtual learning does not work as well for younger students. Charter schools develop their own learning programs.

Q: Are teachers instructing school and virtual students as was the case in hybrid learning?

A: No. There are dedicated teachers for all virtual instruction.

Q: If a COVID-19 outbreak happens in a classroom and a student has to quarantine, will that student then be allowed to participate in virtual learning?

A: Students will be provided work to complete during that time but will not be taught alongside students in our Virtual Learning Program/Online Campus.

Health and Safety

Q: Why have students returned to school in light of the increased COVID-19 positivity rates/delta variant?

A: Nothing replaces the dynamic between a student, educator and their classmates. Social interaction is a big part of learning for our young students. Our schools are the best places for hands-on learning, social and emotional support and socializing with peers. As we saw throughout the pandemic, families also depend on schools for meals.

Q: What is PGCPS doing to keep students and staff safe?

A: PGCPS is doing everything in its power to keep students and employees safe during the school day: Masks required in all PGCPS buildings and on school buses. Requiring employees to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing. Recommending vaccination for all students age 12 and up and working with community partners to provide vaccination clinics in our schools.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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