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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Prince George’s County heads back to the classrooms

Prince George’s County parents have until Sunday to decide whether to tell the school district that their children will return to in-classroom instruction.

Elsewhere in the state of Maryland and around the country, some parents will say “yea” and some will say “no.”

In fact, some parents have moved with their children to other states since the COVID-19 pandemic school shutdowns began. And some of those parents won’t be returning, at least not to put their children in Prince George’s County public schools.

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County schools CEO Monica Goldson said as much Thursday during an hour-long town hall with about 30,000 parents and educators.

“You have the right to make the best decision for you and your family,” Ms. Goldson said during the telephone town hall, which included a Q&A. As well it should have.

Ms. Goldson also said that schools will open for only two days a week for in-person instruction, beginning April 8. That plan affects pre-K, high school seniors and special education students. Another disappointment is that a prom is not on the calendar.

Nor apparently are middle school younger students, the cohort often referred to as being knuckleheads, troublemakers and dropout prone. Those grades and kids up through 11th grade are set to return to on April 15.

There’s a follow-the-alphabet thing in the plan: Students whose last names begin A-J will be in classrooms Mondays and Tuesdays, while the K-Z kids will hit classrooms on Thursdays and Friday.

All kids get virtual learning on Wednesdays.

Teachers have options, too.

They are being urged first to give instructions and lessons to those students who are virtual, and then repeat themselves for in-school kids. It’s fairly clear who benefits from that academic deal.

A parent from Bowie asked what additional resources instructors will receive for simultaneously teaching students in the classroom and virtually.

“There’s a lot our teachers have to manage on a daily basis just in a traditional classroom environment,” she said. “I’m just not sure how a teacher can engage the learners that are virtual and the learners that are face-to-face.”

Sounds like an issue school officials, principals and teachers should have broached with parents at the start of the pandemic last winter, before they decided to shutter schoolhouses.

The resources have been there all along. The key component that was absent was the political backbone to get students and teachers in classrooms at the same time.

It’s still missing.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]


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