By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor
mgreen@afro.com

Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is taking precautions to due the rising COVID cases in the D.M.V. by closing schools for in-person classes and returning to virtual learning.

“Given the rise in COVID-19 cases, all students will transition to virtual learning, effective Monday, December 20 through Thursday, December 23,” PGCPS tweeted.  “Winter Break will proceed as scheduled. Virtual learning will then continue Monday, January 3 through Friday, January 14.”

“In-person learning will resume Tuesday, January 18, following the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday; students in the K-6 Virtual Learning Program will return Monday, January 31,” PGCPS CEO Dr. Monica Goldson clarified in a statement. 

Athletic events were also canceled due to the rise in numbers.

“All athletic events for PGCPS high schools and middle schools, including practices, are postponed from Dec. 18 through Jan. 14. Please continue to be safe,” PGCPS Coordinating Director for Interscholastic Athletics tweeted on Dec. 17.

Many people were in support of the School District’s decisions regarding in-person learning and sporting events.

Angela Alsobrooks, pictured above, is the Prince George’s County Executive and recently, the Prince George’s public school district announced that schools will be closed for in-person classes due to the rise in COVID-19 cases until Jan. 14 for students 7-12th Grades and Jan. 31 for students in Grades K-6. (Screenshot)

“Had to happen.   The cases were skyrocketing and at some point you cannot control the cases. It’s not the best result for all but it makes sense,” one social media user wrote in reply to the tweet.  When a person disagreed with her position she followed up by saying: “Look, I work in one of the schools.  Not saying it’s the perfect option but the cases were doubling daily with both staff and student cases and yes in fact kids were getting sick.  I don’t know that there is a perfect solution to any of this mess. I just want it over with.”

“Good move,” another person tweeted.

Others were angry that the decision was announced and made after the school day on a Friday evening.

“I strongly advise you to have actual parents and maybe some students on your communications teams. It would have been useful for students with lockers to know they should remove anything from their locker before leaving TODAY,” one person wrote. 

Goldson wrote in a statement on the PGCPS website indicating that parents were only able to retrieve their students’ instructional materials at allotted time slots on the Monday after the announcement was made.

“Parents who need to pick up instructional items to ensure continuity of learning may do so on Monday, December 20. Your child’s school will provide more information about pickup times,” she wrote.

Some of the food distribution plans before Christmas break were also put in place.

“Additionally, meal distributions next week will occur on Monday, December 20 and Wednesday, December 22 between 10 a.m. and noon. Information about meal distribution in January is forthcoming.”

“What about teachers who had no virtual students and don’t have plans? They’re supposed to be prepared to teach a completely virtual lesson Monday? What about teachers and staff with kids,” one person tweeted. 

Despite the growing COVID numbers, others disagree with the decision to close schools.

“You should not base on cases. This is an endemic. Test to stay. Be smart. Keep kids in school. Vaccines are available. Boosters are. Kids are at very low risk,” one person wrote on Twitter.

“Seriously? Rather than us having to prove a negative, please provide the data that the risk of COVID is more significant to the health and well-being of our children than the benefit to their personal development by being in school (unmasked), learning, and social,” another person tweeted.

The announcement video shows staff still in the building and specifies that students will transition to virtual learning, causing concern for teachers and staff- specifically those who are parents.

“But staff have to report to the building despite the fact we have proven we can teach well from home,” one teacher questioned.

“Thank you teachers for all the work you do,” PGCPS wrote on Twitter Monday, Dec. 20.  “Your flexibility in transitioning to virtual, again, is a testament to the type of people teachers are. We’re so thankful our students and our curriculum are in your hands.”

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor