Prince George’s is the only Maryland county that has not released a school-reopening plan, but that will change Wednesday afternoon.
District CEO Monica Goldson said she will give an update on in-person learning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
Parents and teachers had been waiting for an update after a school board meeting was canceled last week. And as with many other districts, there has been trepidation about any plans to bring students back for in-person learning. In Montgomery County, members of the Montgomery County Education Association overwhelmingly passed a resolution Monday stating a lack of confidence in that county’s reopening plan.
The teachers’ union in Prince George’s County said key safety measures must be met before teachers and students return to their classrooms.
In an open letter to members, the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association said the school system has not yet addressed its request to invest in facility upgrades — specifically, air-filtration systems in every room where there are students and teachers.
Board of Education Chair Juanita Miller and Vice Chair Sonya Williams issued a statement saying the board could not come to an agreement to hold the meeting last week as scheduled, “because of the financial and legal implications of actions undertaken by several board members.”
“By refusing to meet, the chair and vice chair of the board are willfully neglecting their duties to serve the public and the students of Prince George’s County,” said Joshua M. Thomas, Board of Education member for District 2. “It should be clear that there were several board members who simply chose not to show up and do their jobs. This meeting was scheduled months in advance.”
But Miller and Williams said in their statement that they are “ready and willing to hold Board of Education meetings to review the operations of the school system” and are looking forward to hearing Goldson’s plan.
The chair and vice chair said that the financial issues stem from “using taxpayer dollars to provide lucrative no-bid contracts to their friends,” and last week they did not want to take up “board-initiated items that are the subject of [an] ethics complaint at this time.”
Greenbelt Middle School PTA President Angelina Jao hopes that Miller will expand upon her reasoning to cancel the meeting, such as discussing how an audit will be conducted.
“Dr. Miller’s letter is strongly worded; it would seem reasonable to have mechanisms to efficiently address those issues she highlighted without entirely stopping other work,” Jao said.
The Montgomery County Education Association members are calling for Montgomery County Public Schools to adhere to CDC guidelines regarding the physical reopening of school buildings, implement a contact tracing and testing program, and provide all employees the opportunity to be fully vaccinated before a return to in-person instruction. The union has requested a meeting with the county school board to discuss the reopening plan.
As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Valerie Bonk. Click here for the WTOP News website.
Maryland Matters reporter Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.