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Frequently Asked Questions

Virtual Learning Program / Online Campus

How will the K-6 Virtual Learning Program work?

The K-6 virtual option is designed as a temporary option until students under the age of 12 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. This option was made available to all families at the end of last school year under a June 30 deadline. Given the rise of the delta variant and increased demand for a virtual option, we reopened program applications in August to accommodate additional students.

My child was accepted into the K-6 Virtual Learning Program. When will I get more details?

We notified all families, both previously accepted and on the waitlist, that we can accommodate all students who applied. Parents will receive direct communication from their school’s principal by September 3 about individual virtual learning schedules. Depending on the numbers, students will have a seat in the virtual learning classroom at their school or across schools. 

Is it too late to sign up for K-6 virtual learning?

Yes. This program is at capacity and additional students cannot be added for staffing reasons. We have made every effort to accommodate as many students as possible.

How will the 7-12 Online Campus work?

The Online Campus is a new full-time speciality instructional program for students in grades 7-12 who thrived in a virtual environment. This is not a short-term program in response to the pandemic. Applications to the program are closed for the 2021-22 school year. To be eligible for the Online Campus, students must have had a 2.5 or higher GPA and fewer than 18 absences during the 2020-21 academic year. 

Can Online Campus students still participate in sports and/or extracurricular activities?

Yes. Students enrolled in the Online Campus may actively participate in sports and school-based extracurricular activities.

Why aren’t you offering virtual learning options for 7-12 students beyond the specialty Online Campus?

We do not have the staffing capacity to provide in-person and virtual learning at the middle and high school levels. Elementary students are generally in one cohort for classes, which is not the case for middle and high school students.

Why aren’t there virtual options for pre-K and charter school students?

Prekindergarten is not mandatory under state law. In addition, we found that virtual learning does not work as well for younger students. Charter schools develop their own learning programs.

Will teachers be instructing both in-school and virtual students as was the case in hybrid learning?

No. There will be dedicated teachers for all virtual instruction.

If a COVID-19 outbreak happens in a classroom and a student has to quarantine, will that student then be allowed to participate in virtual learning?

Students will be provided work to complete during that time, but will not be taught alongside students in our Virtual Learning Program/Online Campus.

Health and Safety

Why are we going back to school in light of the increased COVID-19 positivity rates / delta variant?

Nothing replaces the dynamic between a student, educator and their classmates. Social interaction is a big part of learning for our young students. Our schools are the best places for hands-on learning, social and emotional support and socializing with peers. As we saw throughout the pandemic, families also depend on schools for meals.

What is PGCPS doing to keep students and staff safe?

We are doing everything in our power to keep students and employees safe during the school day: Masks required in all PGCPS buildings and on school buses. Requiring employees to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing. Recommending vaccination for all students age 12 and up and working with community partners to provide vaccination clinics in our schools.

What will happen if there’s a COVID-19 outbreak in a classroom or school?

We will follow established COVID notification and quarantine procedures. Details are available in our Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan.

How will you enforce social distancing in classrooms, during lunch periods and on school buses?

We are providing at least 3 feet social distancing where possible across classrooms and other school spaces. Wearing masks consistently helps to reduce transmission. We encourage schools to serve meals in classrooms or outside if possible.

Will masks be required for recess and will lockers be used?

Lockers will not be used for social distancing reasons. Per county guidelines, masks will presently be required during recess — even outdoors.

What if a child refuses to wear a mask in school?

Students will face normal progressive disciplinary practices up to suspension from school. We did not have problems enforcing mask-wearing during hybrid learning. 

Will you test asymptomatic individuals?

We are working with vendors to provide testing of asymptomatic individuals.

Why aren’t you testing all staff weekly regardless of vaccination status?

Health officials have not advised us to test vaccinated individuals due to our universal masking policy. We will continue to test individuals who exhibit symptoms regardless of vaccination status.

Will you check student temperatures daily?

Students should not attend school if they are not feeling well. Families should perform daily health checks using the Frontline Education app to minimize individuals who are sick from entering buildings.

Why aren’t you mandating the vaccine for all PGCPS employees instead of allowing for a testing alternative? 

We do not believe that a more stringent mandate is needed at this time. We will continue to monitor data and work with health officials to determine the best course of action.

Will students be required to get vaccinated or be tested weekly?

Vaccination requirements for students are established by the Maryland Department of Health, not local public school systems. Symptomatic students will continue to be tested according to our health and safety protocols.

What are you doing to keep schools clean?

Buildings will be thoroughly cleaned using Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-approved disinfectants at the end of every school day. Cafeterias and other meal locations will be cleaned and disinfected daily. All touch points, door knobs, sinks, health rooms and locker rooms will be cleaned and disinfected daily. Restrooms will be inspected at a minimum of twice per day and sanitized when necessary.

What is being done for air filtration in classrooms without windows?

We have installed 95,000 MERV-13 filters and are working to install a second set now. We also have more than 3,000 air purifiers for classrooms that do not get fresh air.

School Meals

What should I know about student meals?

Student meals are free for all students this school year. Meals will be individually packaged and distributed and served in the cafeteria or in spaces determined by school administration. Families are still encouraged to complete the meal benefit application, which determines eligibility for the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer Program (P-EBT) and more. Households can apply for meal benefits online at myschoolapps.com. For virtual learners, meal boxes with breakfast, lunch and supper for five days will be available for pick up from 3 to 4 p.m. at regional meal distribution schools.

Transportation

What should I know about transportation?

Masks are required on the school bus. Windows may be opened to improve airflow. School buses are cleaned and sanitized at the conclusion of each run, in between morning and afternoon routes and at the end of the day. School buses will be at normal capacity. To maximize safety and avoid potential delays due to a bus driver shortage, families are encouraged to drive their children to school if possible.

Will a child be able to board a bus without a mask?

Masks are required on school buses; drivers will have extra masks for students who leave home without one. 

How do I get the new school bus app?

The StopFinder mobile app allows parents, guardians and caregivers to view information about their child’s bus schedule and where a child’s bus is and to receive notifications about where the bus is.The StopFinder  app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. Families must have an up-to-date email address in SchoolMax to activate the subscription. Parents and guardians must set up a geo alert within the app to receive notifications about where the bus is and when it is near. Instructions on how to set up a geoalert can be found in the video below.

Uniforms and Child Care

Does my child have to wear a uniform?

Uniform policies are in effect this year at designated schools. Families experiencing financial hardship can get help from schools to obtain uniforms. Please contact your child’s principal for more information.

What should I know about Before and After Care?

Families with children attending schools with before and after care will receive details from our new Vendor Managed Childcare Program partners regarding pre-registration, enrollment and opening dates for before and after school services.