All Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland will move to virtual learning for the final stretch of the school year and into the first month of 2022 due to an uptick in cases found within the school system, the school system’s CEO announced Friday.
Monica Goldson said all regularly scheduled classes between Monday, Dec. 20 and Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 will be held virtually. In-person learning for most students will start back up after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Students in the K-6 Virtual Learning Program will return on Jan. 31.
Goldson said the decision was made so that educators and school staff could continue to deliver instruction “in conditions that prioritize their own health, as well as the well-being of the school community.”
Parents who need to pick up items from the school necessary for virtual learning will be able to stop by their children’s schools on Dec. 20. Goldson said individual schools would be providing pick up times to their communities soon.
Meal distributions will be held between Dec. 20 and Dec. 22 between 10 a.m. and noon. Goldson said plans for January meal distribution will be available soon.
“I strongly encourage all of you to take every precaution against COVID-19, follow social distancing protocols and get vaccinated,” Goldson said.
On Wednesday, three Prince George’s County schools were forced to close after a high number of COVID-19 cases were detected.
Last week, the school system had a two-day case total of 100; this week, there were 155 cases reported in one day, Goldson said in a statement released Wednesday announcing the closure.
Melissa Schoenauer, the parent of a 3rd and 5th grade student from Bowie, Maryland, told WTOP the decision came as a shock to her and her husband.
“I was a little blindsided, it kind of came out of nowhere that they were switching all schools to virtual like my daughter does go my oldest daughter does go to Benjamin Tasker,” she said. “So they closed Benjamin Tasker yesterday, starting yesterday. So we knew she was going to be virtual learning at least into the break, but now, kind of shocking for post-break.”
When reached for comment, public school systems in Prince William and Fairfax counties in Virginia, Charles County in Maryland and D.C. said there are currently no plans to shift to virtual instruction before or after returning from winter break.
Montgomery County Public Schools maintains that they will continue in-person learning unless they are made to switch to virtual learning by local or state officials. That said, they have suspended in-person, non-athletic extracurricular activities outside the school day from Monday, Dec. 20, through Friday, Jan. 7. Scheduled games and practices will take place as planned.
A spokesperson for the Maryland State Department of Education said while the state prioritizes in-person learning, school systems have some flexibility temporarily shift to virtual learning if they feel it is in the best interest of their community.
A D.C. elementary school was also recently forced to shift to virtual learning after a high number of cases were detected there.
The University of Maryland at College Park announced Thursday that it was canceling all winter commencement activities, including graduation, because of a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases in the region.
WTOP’s Rick Massimo, Matt Small and Scott Gelman contributed to this report.
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