New school year will begin with distance learning for the first two quarters

Recently, CEO Dr. Monica Goldson announced her plan to safely and responsibly reopen Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) for the 2020-21 academic year. Following broad input from families, employees and community members, PGCPS will continue distance learning through January 2021. Prince George’s County has been the epicenter of the COVID-19 public health crisis in Maryland. In light of the health disparities in communities that house more than 136,500 students and 20,000 employees, there is a significant public health concern if schools were to reopen this fall for in-person instruction.

Recently parents, educators and administrators were surveyed about their preferences for the upcoming school year given the ongoing pandemic. Forty-six percent of families expressed their preference to continue the distance learning model implemented in the spring; the percentages of educators and administrators in favor of distance learning exceeded 50 percent.

“During this global pandemic, we cannot ignore the health and safety of our students, parents and educators even while working each day to provide the highest quality teaching, learning and leadership at every school,” said Dr. Goldson. “Our students and families are facing a disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. We recognize that no scenario is perfect or comparable to a traditional school year. While it is a difficult decision to not reopen our school buildings for in-person instruction, it is necessary to keep our students and communities safe.”

This fall, PGCPS will enhance the distance learning program with enhanced learning software and more live instruction blended with pre-recorded lessons. Student meals will be available for distribution at all schools. The school system will also establish Parent Support Centers throughout the county to assist families with technology support and other aspects of distance learning.

Today’s announcement is an important step forward in providing families with information to help make the best decisions for their children. Dr. Goldson will host a Family & Community Tele Town Hall on Wednesday evening to discuss the plan and hear from stakeholders. A similar event will be held Thursday evening for employees. Both town halls will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Next week, PGCPS will release a report outlining how the school system will support all students, in particular English language learners, those with special needs and youth from families with low-income, during the distance learning phase. A special Board of Education meeting will be held in late July to review the plan.

As during the initial distance learning phase, PGCPS will invest in helping to close the digital divide by providing devices and internet connectivity for families in need. The school system will distribute additional devices prior to the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 31. As part of a new districtwide 1:1 technology initiative, PGCPS aims to equip every student with their own digital device.

PGCPS will continue working with state and local health experts, government partners and the Maryland State Department of Education as information about the pandemic continues to evolve. The school system will adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mandate social distancing and hand washing, require face masks in PGCPS buildings and conduct thorough cleaning and sanitizing procedures.

Reopen PGCPS Plan

Distance Learning Instruction

Lessons will be held five days a week.
Lessons will also be broadcast on PGCPS-TV for younger students.
Technology will be provided on a 1:1 ratio.
Digital Device Distribution

Students will continue using PGCPS-supplied Chromebooks distributed in the spring.
Additional Chromebooks will be available for pick-up in the weeks ahead and wifi hotspots will be established.
The Connect PGCPS initiative will continue to provide Internet access to families.
Student and Family Supports

All schools will serve as meal sites and offer twice-weekly pickups, similar to the model utilized this spring.
PGCPS will establish Parent Support Centers throughout the county to assist families with technology support and other aspects of distance learning.
Key Dates

Aug. 31 – First Day of School: Distance learning will begin for all grade levels through the end of the second grading quarter in January.
Dec. 1-18: Depending on health conditions, PGCPS will offer families the option to begin hybrid instruction at the start of third quarter (February) for the remainder of the school year.
February to June – Second Semester: If possible, PGCPS will deliver hybrid instruction with two days of in-person learning and three days of distance learning. Full-time distance learning would continue for those students who opted in.

Town Hall – Should the County Change the Charter?

Please join this virtual meeting to hear 4 County Council members about the proposed County bill CB-48-2020. Here is the Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8087145270?pwd=dlhIZElBR2plLzlyOTIzN0NhUlkrUT09#success

Canceled – This Year’s College Park Day Event

At last night’s City Council meeting, the Council decided to cancel College Park Day 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Council also authorized staff to explore other event options that could enable residents to celebrate in a safe manner.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many City events have been canceled: Brunch with Bunny, Spring Egg Hunt, Memorial Day Tribute, 75th Anniversary Parade and Festival, the new Lake Artemesia Concert Series (a mutual decision between Berwyn Heights and College Park), and the Fourth of July Fireworks & Celebration.

County Food Distribution location this Weekend

Capital Area Food Bank – July 17: The Prince George’s County Friday grocery distributions continue, and please see below the flyers

Afordable Housing is Coming to Branchville

Cruz Development Corporation is requesting Detailed Site Plan (DSP) review for property located on the north side of Branchville Road, west of its intersection with University Boulevard and Rhode Island Avenue.

The purpose of the DSP is to construct a 7-story, 81-unit apartment building with 130 parking spaces (35 surface and 95 structured). The proposed density is 37 dwelling units per acre. This project is proposed to be affordable housing financed with bonds from the State Department of Housing and Community Development. Residents will need to meet income eligibility requirements.

The Planning Board is scheduled to hear the DSP on July 23rd. Since the Worksession on July 7th, City staff has met with the Applicant and a representative of the Branchville Volunteer Fire Department to develop mutually agreeable conditions. The City Council will consider the approval of Detailed Site Plan 19042 with conditions at tonight’s Council meeting.

City Installs Banners, Publishes Web page Supporting Black Lives

Last week, the City installed several banners at the City Hall, Duvall Field, and the Public Works building supporting Black Lives. Please see them below.

The City has also published its Black Lives Matter webpage at https://www.collegeparkmd.gov/blacklivesmatter.  The page features the City’s resolution supporting Black Lives, the June 30 Virtual Forum, and the proclamation for Juneteenth.  The design echoes the banners that have gone up at Duvall Field, Davis Hall and the City Hall construction project.

Community – Police Meeting – 7:30 PM, Monday, July 13, 2020

Please come meet with College Park Contract Police Officers, Prince George’s County Community Police Officer, and your neighbors at our virtual Community – Police Meeting, at 7:30 PM, Monday, July 13, 2020. This is an excellent opportunity to bring your concerns directly to the Police to discuss Crime and Safety in the Neighborhood. All College Park residents are welcome. Please spread the word!

Join by Zoom – http://b.link/CPCommunityPolice
Join by phone: 3017158592, Meeting ID: 828 5917 0824 Password: 241758

Followup on CB-48-2020 Town Hall about Homestead Property Tax Credit Cap

Thank you all who joined last night’s town hall. In case you were not able to join here is the recorded video of the event

Please see below various presentations used at last night’s meeting:

  1. Slides used by the meeting moderators
  2. Slides used by Councilmember Glaros
  3. Slides used by Councilmember Dernoga

Please register here for the July 21 Public Hearing on the bill.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Virtual Q&A with Joshua Thomas

Next Wednesday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m. please join a virtual Q&A with Prince George’s County District 2 Board of Education representative Joshua Thomas.

Discussion will include an assessment of the 2019/2020 school year along with plans for the upcoming school year.

To join: Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +13017158592,,97952972640# or +13126266799,,97952972640#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 929 205 6099 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 6833
Webinar ID: 979 5297 2640
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/aeJPcWn5PN

Sponsored by the City’s Education Advisory Committee.

College Park Recognizes Juneteenth National Freedom Day

Recently, I’ve asked the City Council to adopt a resolution in support of the Junetheenth celebration.

At this evening’s City Council meeting, the Mayor and Council made a proclamation expressing support for the celebration of Juneteenth National Freedom Day. Because of the summer schedule, the Mayor and Council didn’t have Council meetings for the past 3 weeks, so the proclamation was made retroactively.

The proclamation reads the following.

WHEREAS, approximately eleven and a half million African-Americans survived the “Middle Passage,” a month-long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean stacked in the bottom of slave ships and were subjected to more than 200 years of slavery upon arrival in the United States; and

WHEREAS, more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order Number 3, on June 19, 1865, declaring that, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, all enslaved people were free with “absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and those enslaved;” and

WHEREAS, Juneteenth, or June 19th, is celebrated each year as the date when the last enslaved people in the United States were freed, and commemorates the spontaneous celebration that erupted among African-Americans upon learning of their freedom; and

WHEREAS, after more than 150 years of its annual celebration, Juneteenth has been officially recognized by the President and the Congress of the United States as Juneteenth Independence Day; and

WHEREAS, Americans of all colors, creeds, cultures, religions, and countries of origin share a common love of and respect for freedom, as well as a determination to protect their right to freedom through democratic institutions, by which the tenets of freedom are guaranteed and protected. Juneteenth Independence Day, coupled with Independence Day on the fourth of July, completes the “cycle of freedom” for America’s Independence Day observances; and

WHEREAS, the Prince George’s County Council has expressed support yearly for the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign; and

WHEREAS, the General Assembly of Maryland enacted legislation during the 2014 Legislative Session requiring the Governor annually to proclaim June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day; and

WHEREAS, Juneteenth National Freedom Day recalls how former slaves celebrated the abolishment of slavery with excitement and great joy, and serves as a reminder to all Americans of the status and importance of Americans of African descent.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Patrick L. Wojahn, Mayor of the City of College Park, on behalf of the City Council, hereby proclaim, and the City does hereby recognize, Friday, June 19, 2020, as JUNETEENTH to acknowledge the historical significance of the day, and to recommit the City to working toward the dismantling of institutionalized racism. SO PROCLAIMED THIS 7th DAY OF July , 2020.

Housing Authority is Asking the City to Lease Land Adjacent to Attick Towers Free-of-Charge

City has been recently asked to explore the possibility of using adjoining City of College Park property to provide additional parking for the Attick Towers housing project. The plan proposes 12 parking spaces to be constructed on the City-owned Parcel 92 at the northwest corner of Rhode Island Avenue and MD193. The property is zoned Open Space (O-S) and contains .42 acres. These documents were referred to the Planning Director and City Engineer for review, and on May 15, 2020.

City staff expressed concern about the proposed use of the property and suggested alternative locations on the existing site to meet their parking needs. The City Engineer provided some of these alternatives. This shows the possibility of providing at least 12 spaces along the front and side of the property, which would be a less expensive alternative. Another option would be expanding the parking area in the rear of the property into the green area. The Housing Authority considered these options and asked for the opportunity to present their request directly to the City Council.

City Announces New Economic Development Manager

City Manager Scott Somers announced last week that Bridgette L. Johnson has been selected as the next Economic Development Manager for the City of College Park. This position has been upgraded from Coordinator to Manager for Fiscal Year 2021. Somers stated that “the City is excited about the expanded role the new Economic Development Manager will have. We welcome Bridgette to the team.”

With a total of 17 years in economic development for local governments, Johnson will bring extensive knowledge to this position.

Johnson is currently the President & CEO of Bridgeline Solutions, LLC where she serves as an Economic Development Consultant to the City of Havre de Grace, Maryland. She previously served as Senior Economic Development Associate for Harford County’s Office of Economic Development and as the Manager of Economic Development for the City of Havre de Grace, Maryland. Johnson also served in the United States Army as an Equipment Records and Parts Specialist. Johnson received her Masters of Community Planning from the University of Maryland and her Bachelor of Arts in Government & International Relations from the University of South Carolina.

Johnson is expected to start on August 10, 2020.
[City of College Park]

Public Hearing on Proposed Charter Question Proposed Homestead Property Tax Credit Cap

The Prince George’s County Council, during a virtual session on Tuesday, June 23rd, introduced and considered several bond bill proposals (Council Bills 43, 44, 45, 46, 47- 2020) in support of capital program funding for approved County facilities. The County Council also introduced and discussed a proposed Charter Amendment, CB482020, on the Homestead Property Tax Credit Cap, and potential placement on the ballot in the November General Election.  The Council will hold a public hearing for each of these proposed measures on July 21, 2020, prior to a final vote. These measures, if enacted, will be processed to appear as a referendum on the November ballot for a final decision by Prince George’s County voters.

CLICK HERE for the Council’s Legislative and Zoning Information System (LZIS), and review each of the bills. To speak at the public hearings for these bills or any other proposed legislation, sign up via the Council’s E-Comment portal.

College Park Arts Exchange  Presents PorchFourth!

Tomorrow, on July 4th, the College Park Arts Exchange has organized a Porchfest “PorchFourth” lineup of local musicians who will play sets outside at different addresses across the city.  This outdoor, physically distant music event should be a fun way to spend part of the day, please see the schedule posted. 

A celebration of musical acts around the neighborhoods of College Park!

Please wear your mask, observe physical distancing at all times, and bring your own blanket or chairs. Maximum crowd size is 50 people or less — look for some of these events to be livestreaming.  Also, plan ahead and use your bathroom at home before attending PorchFourth events! This is a rain or shine event.  Please put safety first in case of lightning. You are welcome to support the performers with tips! Some have provided online links to make this easier.

To Host – CPAE can assign musicians to perform in your yard.  All you might need to provide is possibly an outdoor outlet.    Sign up here.

Contact info@cpae.org with any questions.


Community Forum on County Bill CB-48-2020

A recent proposed County bill (CB-4-2020) on some potential changes to the homestead tax credit program is causing much attention and questions. If approved, the change may impact how much tax we pay on our homes. Two County Councilmembers representing College Park, Tom Dernoga, and Dannielle Glaros will be at the meeting to discuss the bill and take your questions. Your College Park City Council members from District 1 and 4 will be hosting this important town hall.
When: 7 pm, Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Zoom meeting link: http://b.link/CB48TownHall
RSVP (recommended): http://b.link/CB48RSVP
Please spread the word. Thank you!