In times of crisis and uncertainty, clear and timely communication is of paramount importance. The COVID-19 global health pandemic has necessitated that Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) prioritize communications for the digital sphere, leveraging the speed of technology to reach all members of the PGCPS community. Since the initial announcement in March 2020 of the statewide school closures, the school system has focused on transparency while managing expectations, addressing urgent issues, and connecting stakeholders with community partners and government resources.
As PGCPS plans for the reopening of all schools and administrative offices, the Office of Communications and Community Engagement will coordinate efforts that reflect our commitment to empower all members of the PGCPS community with information — delivering timely communication at every stage that achieves our overarching goals of safety, equity and excellence.
As the nation’s 18th largest school system and second-largest in Maryland, Prince George’s County Public Schools serves an exceptionally diverse population, notably the highest concentration of students of color and those with limited English proficiency. System-wide communications are distributed in English, Spanish and French. Meetings and events are made accessible to linguistically diverse families through interpretation services in over 20 languages.
In addition to automated email, text messaging and robocall systems, the Office of Communications and Community Engagement generally uses four tools to reach audiences:
Under the direction of the Chief of Staff, the Associate Superintendent of Communications and Community Engagement leads the school system’s public information, digital media, language accessibility and community partnership initiatives. Using a three-tiered structure, the Office of Communications and Community Engagement works collaboratively across schools, departments and divisions to support the school system’s diverse needs:
As we continue navigating this public health crisis, Prince George’s County Public Schools will use multiple means to communicate proactively and consistently with families, employees and community members. These include:
Reopen PGCPS webpage: Building on the strengths of the school system’s dedicated COVID- 19 webpage, the Reopen PGCPS webpage (www.pgcps.org/reopen) provides a central site for learning more about the reopening plan, resources and the latest news and information.
PGCPS en español features an identical companion site, Reapertura de PGCPS (www.pgcps.org/es).
#ReopenPGCPS social media: Reopening-related news and information across social media platforms focuses on key dates, technology set-up and assistance, and additional resources for families (e.g. meals, family support centers, distance learning hotline). News conferences are live-tweeted and live-streamed on various platforms.
Reopen PGCPS/Reapertura de PGCPS digital newsletter: Launched in August, the weekly newsletter focuses on important information about reopening and the upcoming school year. Sections include a top story, parent resources and recent media highlights. The newsletter will be phased out after the first week of school with related content integrated into the weekly Engage PGCPS/Acción PGCPS family and community newsletter.
PGCPS-TV: The onset of distance learning revitalized viewership on the school system’s TV channel as students and families used it for pre-taped lessons. Public service announcements and other highlights were available on cable and video-on-demand, accessible from the PGCPS website.
Media relations: Regular story pitches to local news outlets will keep stakeholders informed about the reopening timetable, distance learning and student/family supports while op-eds and national media appearances will provide the opportunity to share our story of progress and challenges in addressing the digital divide.
Digital advertising: Radio and social media advertising will amplify our messages around our response to the pandemic, distance learning opportunities, commitment to safety, parent resources and technology access
Employee communications: Customized messages to employees are delivered through the weekly PGCPS Express newsletter and updates from the CEO. Virtual town halls will provide an opportunity to reinforce important messages around safety protocols and returning to work sites and address staff questions and concerns.
Community engagement: Virtual town halls will provide families with answers to distance learning questions and information about resources. Collaborations with business, faith-based and nonprofit partners will continue virtually to secure volunteer services and resources that support the needs of students, families and the school system. Major updates will be shared through the Partner PGCPS newsletter.
Employees are required to notify supervisors of a positive COVID-19 test. When such incidences occur, a system of protocols are in place for appropriate notification to supervisors and colleagues as described below.
Central office employee