There has been a lot of talk about returning back to school. Parents, teachers and students are burden with misinformation that includes when or if we return. This leaves our community scarce with mixed reactions what other news sources cover.
The Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) had invited the school to discuss and share important information about our school potentially reopening. The meeting was hosted on Tuesday, January 26th at 7PM by the President Ms. Crystal Carpenter and was led by Principal Dr. Gorman Brown. He shared a presentation regarding the reopening plans and the plan for hybrid learning in the spring.
Going back to school:
Principal Dr. Brown informed students and parents that those with a last name starting with A-J would have the option to attend school Mondays and Tuesdays. Students with a last name starting with K-Z would attend on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would remain virtual. Of course, coming back to in person learning is optional for all students, and continuing virtually will still be available throughout the school year.
This plan is not yet completely formed. With the start of online school last March, Flowers has implemented lunch to be at the same time for all students. This is not a viable option for in person learning, and in the past lunch had been split into four blocks. Dr. Brown was candid and said that a solution for this has not yet been finalized.
“We will never have more than 50% of the student population in the building.”- Dr. Brown
Factors determing Return:
As of January 27th, the county had a 9% positivity rate. A less than 5% positivity rate is what is recommended for reopening according to the Prince George’s County “Matrix for Safe School Reopening Based on COVID‐19 Indicators.” Dr. Brown noted the concern about this.
“Though there are jurisdictions in our state that don’t have these measures, we are concerned about our school, our students, and our community where these metrics would say that it’s not the time to return students to school yet.”- Dr. Brown
Pressure from Maryland governor Larry Hogan has caused similar meetings and concerns to be raised in schools across the state. On January 21st, Hogan called for all Maryland school systems to show “good-faith measures” in attempting to reopen by March 1st. He stated that legal routes may be taken to ensure that schools try their best to reopen. This inevitably put strain on country executives to have their schools develop plans for hybrid learning.
While some students and parents may be eager for the return, many are apprehensive of the initiative. CEO of PGCPS Dr. Monica Goldson released an email on January 28th encouraging faculty to receive their vaccinations. She also stated that an update would be given in mid-February about the reopening process.
“The school system is working … to provide employee vaccinations starting this weekend for about six to eight weeks. During this time, virtual learning may consist of some classes that are asynchronous, rather than live, to accommodate employees who are getting vaccinated.” -Dr. Goldson
The school community will be eagerly awaiting further details and decisions on how hybrid learning will be implemented in spring. The safety of students, teachers, and families is the most important factor in this situation, so it is important to voice your concerns in the face of pressures from high ranking officials.