Prince George’s Co. schools to host virtual classes in foreign languages

The public school system in Prince George’s County, Maryland, will aim to develop virtual classrooms specifically designed to teach students who are immigrants in their native languages.

Under recommendations approved by the county’s board of education Thursday, Prince George’s County Public Schools will try to implement virtual classrooms by the year 2025 that focus on core required classes, including math and science.

They will be taught across all grades “in at least the top five native languages” spoken by English language learners.

By 2030, “every student should have the opportunity to virtually learn in their native language for core required classes,” according to the recommendations.

“It is for the students,” said board member Belinda Queen. “This is what we do every day — we serve for the betterment of our students.”

A work group created by the school board last year developed the plan, with the goal of decreasing the achievement gap of immigrant students.

“I feel like this is the first time that something like this has been done in a holistic way for our immigrant students,” said board member Raaheela Ahmed.

The recommendations call for having 20% of teachers certified to instruct English language learners by the year 2023.

Each school will be expected to develop plans for those students, giving teachers and staff members who work with them information including their home languages and the number of years they have been in the United States.

“This could help schools and instructors create a student profile to give the student needed support,” the work group said.

The school system aims to make “Ethnic and Cultural Studies” a graduation requirement by 2025 as well, according to the recommendations.

“What it shows is that this process works and that it can work continuously for those students that maybe don’t see themselves always at the front of peoples’ thoughts and minds,” said Ahmed.

The recommendations call for the school system to revitalize the H1-B visa program for immigrant teachers by 2026 and hire 1,000 employees by 2030. The H-1B visa program allows companies and other employers to temporarily employ foreign workers.

“PGCPS should prioritize the recruitment of these teachers from the countries that are most represented in Prince George’s County Schools,” the work group said.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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