Students in Prince George’s County are set to return to class for in-person learning Tuesday for the first time since before Christmas, after a rapid spread in COVID-19 cases, staffing shortages and teacher anxiety led to the temporary shift to virtual learning.
Students transitioned to virtual learning on Dec. 20 with a plan to return after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Other school systems in the D.C. region have already returned to the classroom.
Prince George’s County took some extra time to make sure testing for the coronavirus was in place.
“I think our school system did a very wise thing as they have done all along. They’ve been ahead of the curve when it comes to protecting the health and well-being of our students,” Dr. George Askew, the county health secretary, said.
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Schools will distribute KN95 masks and at-home COVID-19 rapid tests to students and staff upon their return. Students are requested to test Sunday night and upload results before returning on Monday.
Quarantine rules will mirror CDC guidelines, and the temporary K-6 distance learning program will end Jan. 28.
Some parents who spoke to News4 said they were concerned about their children going back.
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“Not now. It’s too early,” one father said.
“It would be a lot better if they would stay home, you know, just until the school year’s over,” another parent said.
In a recent interview, the county teachers union said instructors also still have a lot of anxiety about the return to in-person learning.
“They feel very disrespected. They feel like their lives don’t matter. They feel like everybody is just taking them for granted,” the union’s president, Donna Christy, said.
Dr. Monica Goldson, CEO of the school system, said that her priorities are health and safety, and her goal is to keep schools open.