For students in Prince George’s County and across Maryland, the first day of the 2021-22 school year is approaching quickly. Prince George’s County recently announced its plan to return to in-person learning ahead of a September 8th start date. After a year of virtual classes, students, teachers, and parents will have to readjust to schedules, restrictions, and “a new normal.” So, to help you prepare for what is to come, join us below as we review the school re-opening plan.
Will Schools Return to In-person Learning?
Announced recently, Prince George’s County Public Schools will return to in-person learning, five days per week, for the Fall semester. This decision echoes an effort across the state to return students to full-time learning. According to the Maryland State Board of Education,
“Beginning with the opening of schools for the 2021-2022 school year, local boards of education must permit all students to attend school for at least 180 actual school days and a minimum of 1,080 school hours during a 10-month period for in-person, in-school instruction, with the teacher in the classroom. Any deviation from this will need State Board approval.”
In Prince George’s County, officials encourage parents of students 12 and older to get their children vaccinated ahead of the upcoming school year. However, there are some options for parents of children in grades K through 6 who cannot yet be vaccinated. The re-opening plan also includes a new “online campus” option available to a limited number of students.
What Does the Re-opening Plan Look Like for Students?
The new standards from the Board of Education signal an end to hybrid instruction utilized during the pandemic. This type of learning combined online instruction with limited in-school time. However, going forward in 2021, the state directed all schools to open five days in person. Officials believe that in-school instructions are the key to equitable learning opportunities for all students. In Prince George’s County, Reconnect PGCPS Learning Options are as follows –
- Full-Time, In-Person Learning for All Grades – All students can return to in-school learning beginning Fall 2021. In addition, regular school schedules of 5 days per week will resume.
- Fall Virtual Learning Program for Grades K through 6 – Right now, a COVID vaccine is not available for children under 12. Therefore, younger students that want to continue with virtual learning were given the option to apply for a Fall Virtual Learning Program by August 20th. Classes adhere to regular schedules, and students receive instruction from an assigned teacher, not from their school. However, parents will have the option to return to in-school learning after the first semester. In addition, once a vaccine becomes available, the program will discontinue.
- Online Campus for Grades 7 through 12 – Some students naturally thrive in a virtual environment, So, PGCPS created a special limited program for 700 students. The program combines rigorous live and pre-recorded instruction that emphasizes core content with a limited selection of elective courses. To participate, students must apply by August 17th and maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher. This is a new and exciting initiative from PGCPS and not a short-term pandemic-related program.
Will Schools Require Masks for Students and Staff?
According to Monica Goldson, chief executive of Maryland’s second-largest school system, Prince George’s County Public Schools will require staff, students, teachers, and visitors to wear masks in the upcoming school year. That said, the state of Maryland issued guidelines that strongly suggest but do not mandate masking in schools. However, Goldson states a mask mandate will be imposed until student vaccination rates reach at least 70%. Currently, only around 50% of eligible students have received a vaccine.
Tips for Returning to In-person Learning
Understanding how school may look different in the coming year is only half the battle. Adapting to in-person learning may bring up some anxiety, questions, or fears for students who have spent the last year at home. So, to help set your child up for success, check out these tips below –
- Create a New Routine
- Stay Informed
- Review Masking Basics and Safety
- Put a Spotlight on Hygiene
- Keep Communication Lines Open
Create a New Routine
Returning to a normal schedule of getting up and getting out the door for school may be an adjustment for some households that became used to virtual learning. So, consider the following –
- Push up the bedtime so children can get plenty of rest before an earlier start time in the mornings.
- Have children choose their clothing and lay it put the night before.
- Set a bedtime routine that limits the use of electronics to aid in falling asleep faster.
Like many other institutions, the school system is taking pandemic precautions moment by moment to keep everyone safe. However, it is possible that important communications may come to parents in the form of calls, emails, or letters. So, it is vital to be attentive and stay informed of the latest news or best practices in your child’s classroom.
Review Masking Basics and Safety
It is essential that children and teens know how to wear a mask and understand why it is important for them and others. Furthermore, children heading back to school will need to wear a mask for longer than they may be used to. Check out the tips below for getting your child ready to mask up and head back to school –
- Teach children the proper way to wear their masks, covering both their nose and mouth completely.
- Encourage kids to practice wearing them for periods of time. This may help build up a tolerance to communicating and doing daily activities while masking up.
- Officials have declared masking is a health priority; however, it can still be fun. So, encourage kids to express their personality however they can and add some flair to their mask. Nowadays, masks come in a variety of colors, patterns, and themes to choose from.
Unfortunately, masks for kids can be uncomfortable, especially when wearing them for such long periods. Check out this additional guide for masking children from the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Put a Spotlight on Hygiene
Hygiene for children is vital to preventing the spread of all sorts of germs, not just COVID-19. Therefore, establishing these consistent practices at home is a great start. Teach kids how to properly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. For younger children, singing a little song can help keep them engaged and excited in the process. School-age children should get into the habit of washing hands before and after eating when returning home from outdoor activity and after using the restroom.
Keep Communication Lines Open
Change can be difficult. That said, returning to this new normal of masking throughout the day and restricted contact may be tough for some children. Therefore, parents must keep the communication line opens and speak to their kids about any feelings or fears surrounding a return to in-person learning.
In times where children can receive varied information, parents can help assure children they are not alone. In addition, use age-appropriate language to explain that teachers and medical professionals are doing everything they can to keep everyone healthy.
Providing a safe space for children to express their thoughts, whatever they may be, is vital to their success.
Are You New to Prince George’s County, Maryland?
Prince George’s County is a thriving area in southern Maryland just east of the nation’s capital. Its proximity to Washington DC attracts an eclectic population of families, students, professionals, government contractors, and anyone looking for a bit of the suburb away from the big city.
Are you new to the area or considering a move to this thriving area of Maryland? Finding your next rental home in such a competitive market can be a challenge. However, Bay Property Management Group offers a variety of listings and convenient showings to help you find the right fit. So check out our online property listings to start your search today!