Prince George School Board hosts town hall meeting to discuss school year

By Rodney Robinson

PRINCE GEORGE, Va — Prince George School Board members held a town hall meeting Thursday evening to hear the concerns of families ahead of the upcoming school year. Parents, teachers and students alike listened and participated both in person and virtually at Prince George High School.

“We want to offer our families the choice to be able to do what their family needs,” said Superintendent Dr. Lisa Pennycuff.

There were about 50 people who attended the meeting Thursday. The meeting began with Dr. Pennycuff giving an update on changes to their ‘Return to Learn’ website. PGCPS created a frequently asked questions tab for families. The FAQ was created to answer the most common questions asked by families, using the previous survey distributed and using questions asked before the school board on Tuesday at the regular meeting. The FAQ has a section for families and a section for faculty and staff.

Within the FAQ, the board has added its health mitigation plan that was initially released in June. The mitigation plan outlines options for instruction and plans for faculty or students if they test positive for the virus, amongst other information. The board recommends families and staff to check this out for any general questions.

Following the presentation, families and faculty began voicing their thoughts and concerns. Some common concerns that families had were the requirement of face masks, virtual versus in-person learning, scheduling, potential issues with receiving reliable connection for virtual instruction and students who have pre-existing health concerns. Some families stress that their children will not wear face masks due to health concerns. Others indicate that it will be tough for younger kids to social distance while with their friends or peers at school. Following the meeting, Dr. Pennycuff iterated that they want to offer families the choice of whether to send their children to school or learn virtually. Pennycuff wants “the needs of our community” to drive decisions about the school year.

“I think the takeaways for me tonight are that we have families who feel strongly that they are ready for their children to return to school,” Pennycuff said. “We also have families who are worried, who need that virtual remote option.”

A decision has not been finalized for the upcoming school year. The board will have to decide about the upcoming school year in mid-August. However, they hope to make a decision much sooner. For more information, visit PGCPS’ ‘Return to learn’ website.

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