Prince George's Public Schools students came back to school this week to a severe shortage of school personnel. On a hopeful note, Superintendent Monica Goldson is ending the mask mandate for students and teachers next week. (Courtesy Photo)

By Deborah Bailey,
Contributing Editor

Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) returned students to a smaller number of teachers and staff in their buildings this year.

PGCPS C.E.O. Monica Goldson said the school system is experiencing a shortage of roughly 900 teachers and an additional 150 bus drivers in Maryland’s second school district, serving 130,000 students. 

Goldson said PGCPS is starting the year with a shortfall of about 150 bus drivers, forcing existing drivers to be creative by doubling up on bus routes and transporting children to multiple schools. 

“We’re asking parents to be patient and expect delays,” Goldson said. 

The teacher shortage comes in the wake of large numbers of resignations that took place at the end of last academic year. Teachers reported being exhausted due to the demands on their profession during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We still have on average about 4.5 vacant positions per school building,” Goldson said.  “That averages to about 91 percent of our teaching positions filled and 9 percent unfilled. That comes up to about 900,” she said.  

Goldson said plans are underway to fortify substitute teaching roles, with a new campaign underway for retired teachers to return to the classroom and hiring additional substitutes. Extra compensation will be arranged for teachers who cover additional classes. Last year, PGCPS offered new substitutes up to $100 per day to take on the shortage of teachers the system experienced during the height of the pandemic. 

While PGCPS is working hard to overcome its staff shortage, Prince George’s County Schools will lift the mandatory mask mandate, and become “mask optional” on September 6. 

Goldson sighted “declining Covid-19 case counts” as the reason to drop what was one of the only mandatory school mask mandates in the state.  

She still urged families to take whatever precautions they felt were needed for their students to be safe as students transition to the optional masking plan after Labor Day.

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