coronavirus

Prince George's County Public Schools to Go Virtual

Virtual learning will begin Dec. 20 and continue through Jan. 14

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Prince George's County Public Schools will go virtual beginning Dec. 20 through Jan. 14, 2022, after a week where dozens of schools reported COVID-19 cases and staffing problems troubled campuses, a spokesperson said.

Winter break will proceed as scheduled, then virtual learning will resume on Jan. 3. Students aren't set to return to school buildings until Tuesday, Jan. 18, after the long weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

PGCPS CEO Monica Goldson said in a statement that she’s decided to close schools not just because of rising COVID-19 cases but also because of rising anxiety among teachers.

“Educators, administrators and support staff must be able to deliver in-person instruction and other activities in conditions that prioritize their own health, as well as the wellbeing of the school community,” Goldson said in a letter.

Many parents told News4 that they think the decision makes sense for the school system. Multiple schools already moved to virtual learning due to virus outbreaks.

Sixty schools and offices reported COVID-19 cases on Thursday alone, according to PGCPS data.

There’s also a teacher shortage at some schools. Some students at two middle schools that reported multiple COVID-19 cases this week told News4 they left early due to a lack of teachers.

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At James Madison Middle School in Upper Marlboro, parents lined up to pick up students tired of waiting in a gym for a teacher.

One man said his son texted him saying, “Dad, could you please come and get me immediately? The entire eighth grade is in the gymnasium.”

There was a similar scene in G. James Gholson Middle School in Landover. So few teachers showed up that the school sent a letter to staff, telling them they needed a doctor’s note to be absent.

Donna Christy, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association union, says a doctor’s note requirement should only apply to staff with a suspected pattern of abuse.

A mix of new quarantine policies and rising cases are impacting staffing, Christy said.

“There aren’t enough staff in the building for students to receive a quality education,” Christy said.

As COVID-19 case counts climb in the D.C. area, some events are postponed or canceled, and some universities are requiring COVID-19 booster shots. 

Stay with NBC4 Washington for updates.

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