Prince George’s County releases more details about distance learning plan

Students in Prince George’s County’s Public Schools will be back in virtual classrooms in just about a month, and school leaders are vowing distance learning in the Maryland school system will be more rigorous and demanding than last spring.

The county’s plan for this school year checks in at 150 pages.

Kids from kindergarten through high school can expect each school day to run about six hours in total, with most days featuring four “live” sessions each day. Each of those sessions will run about an hour, and be taught from teachers who are either in an empty classroom or in their homes.

Some will be recorded ahead of time, but some will be livestreaming. Breaks for lunch and “independent practice” will be sprinkled in.

Attendance will be taken every day — sometimes twice a day. And teachers will grade at least two assignments every week.

“The impact of COVID-19 on public education is unprecedented,” begins the plan unveiled by the county. “It has served as a call to action and an opportunity to reimagine our structural models for our changing world, workplace, and future.”

Earlier this month, schools CEO Monica Goldson described the plan as an “amazing, robust distance learning experience.”

Goldson ensured that every student will be equipped with an iPad or laptop and Wi-Fi access.

She also vowed there would be more support for students, including instructional, emotional and social supports.

A little over 60% of students were able to access online instruction every day by the time the school year ended in June. In the coming year, there will be more support to help get through technology and instructional issues that students and their parents may encounter.

“We’ve also learned that we need to support our families more,” Goldson said, which includes parent support centers. Meals will continue to be offered, similar to spring.

The distance learning start does affect school athletics, which will be on hold.

“At this time, we will not be able to implement interscholastic activities that will allow our students to remain safe,” Goldson said.

The entire school system will spend the first semester in a virtual classroom — with the county assessing in December whether students can return beginning in February.

Even then, it’s likely some students would continue learning from home while others would return on a hybrid schedule, spending either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday in the classroom while continuing with virtual learning the other days.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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