For Hyattsville students, 2020 summer school is virtual
By Kylie Rau
Kiesha Jones, a Hyattsville Middle School parent, recently enrolled her son in a Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) summer virtual program.
“As a student, following up on at-home assignments really wasn’t his thing, and now school has become at-home so I signed him up to give him another chance at work ethic,” she said during a phone interview.
Jones explained that PGCPS issued Chromebooks for students to work virtually. Students can access the program any time of the day and have access to a tutor.
“It sounds like it’s going to be like Khan Academy where you log in and it paces you. If you’re still not understanding the material that goes along with it, you can reach out to a person, either individually, or as a group,” she noted.
According to an email from PGCPS Associate Superintendent David Curry, the district is offering the Middle School Intervention and Enrichment Program for all sixth, seventh and eighth grade students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Middle school students who enrolled in classes taught by long-term substitutes for the majority of the school year will also be eligible to receive targeted support. The intervention program is intended to engage students in virtual lessons by a certified reading and mathematics teacher.
The free middle school program runs through July, and students will receive direct instruction from their teacher for at least one hour on designated days.
In addition to the Middle School Intervention and Enrichment Program, PGCPS is offering an array of virtual summer school programs, according to their website. For elementary school students countywide, there is access to a dedicated television station and other online resources. In addition, certain schools, including Rosa L. Parks Elementary, have their own virtual summer programs. High school programs are more diversified and include Credit Recovery and Original Credit, Science and Technology First Steps to Success, and Aerospace Engineering and Aviation Technology.
Although as of June 10, all Maryland school systems have the green light to resume in-person summer instruction under strict limitations, PGCPS has opted to keep school online through the summer.
State Superintendent of Maryland Schools Karen Salmon recommended that schools provide in-person summer instruction to those students most in need. “Students with the most intense learning needs are the ones that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, and without an intense focus on these students, they would be among the last to recover,” Salmon said in a press conference on June 10th.
According to the PGCPS website, the district is providing a special education extended school year, also in July, consisting of “an individualized extension of specific services … to meet specific goals included in the student’s Individualized Education Program.”
Trinell Bowman, the director of special education for PGCPS, spoke to the unique struggle many students served by her department are facing during this pandemic: “We do know that for some of our students, this was a high time of anxiety that students may have not experienced before.”
As for the fall, according to Maryland Department of Education guidelines, full in person instruction cannot resume until the state has reached Stage 3 of its coronavirus recovery. On June 3, PGCPS released a survey seeking input from families and students about their experiences with distance learning during the pandemic. The school system will use the results to develop a plan for reopening schools in the fall.