Thousands of students in Prince George’s County will continue to learn virtually

Back to school is around the corner in Prince George’s County Public Schools with staff going back Friday and students on Sept. 8.

On Wednesday PGCPS hosted a telephone town hall that the district said nearly 30,000 people called into.

CEO Dr. Monica Goldson said that every student K-6 who applied to learn virtually will be able to do that, more than 12,000 kids.

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Goldson said that’s the cap and no additional students will be accepted now, even those students who must be out of school on quarantine.

It was big news for a lot of people Wednesday, including teachers.

Dr. Donna Christy, president of Prince George’s Co. Educators’ Association said she learned the news through media reports.

"I haven’t heard yet how that’s being staffed or how that’s being managed because last I had heard, we didn’t have enough teachers for the kids that were signed up already," said Christy.

For grades 7 through 12, there is also a virtual academy, but Goldson said not all students will be accepted who prefer to learn virtually because students 12-years-old and up are eligible for the vaccine.

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PGCPS said 57 percent of eligible youth have been vaccinated so far.

There’s no vaccine mandate for students, however, staff members are required either to be vaccinated or undergo a COVID-19 test every week.

One parent on the call asked if there would be regular testing for students. Goldson said that won’t be happening and students would only be tested if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Christy said another concern for teachers is how they’re going to enforce the county mask mandate.

"We don’t want to kick kids out of school, right? We don’t want to have kids suspended because they don’t wear a mask, but we need some kind of way to enforce it."

She said she requested guidance from administrators but has not received it yet.

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Christy also said teachers are concerned about large class sizes, especially at the high school level, with 30 to 40 students in a room.

Thursday morning a PGCPS spokeswoman responded to FOX 5’s request for information saying:

"Students will face normal disciplinary practices regarding progressive discipline up to suspension from school. However, we do not expect problems. We did not have problems enforcing mask-wearing during hybrid learning. Normal class size will continue at all levels."