Public schools in Prince George’s County will reopen for in-class learning in April, a month later than state officials had directed, under a plan announced Wednesday that could mean most employees who want the coronavirus vaccine will have it.

Students in Maryland’s second-largest school system will have been out of their classrooms more than a year amid a pandemic that hit the county particularly hard. Its cases — more than 71,400 since the crisis began — outnumber those in other Maryland counties.

When students go back, they will learn under a hybrid approach that combines in-person and virtual instruction, with two days a week on campus and three days online. Families may continue all-remote learning if they choose.

Monica Goldson, the school system’s chief executive, said in an interview that the plan comes as covid-19 trends are improving and that it makes student and staff safety a priority.

“We’ve had the highest covid-19 positivity rate since this pandemic started, and I am grateful that since January 22nd our daily covid positivity rate continues to decrease,” she said. “Because of that I felt confident in making the decision.”

On April 8, the school system will bring back a first wave of students, including all of those in special education, along with children in prekindergarten through sixth grade and 12th-graders.

A week later, a second wave will include students in seventh through 11th grade.

State officials, including Gov. Larry Hogan (R), said in January that school system leaders should make good-faith efforts to return students to in-person learning by March 1.

Goldson said that she discussed the matter with State Schools Superintendent Karen B. Salmon, who appeared to understand.

A spokeswoman at the Maryland State Department of Education said state officials just learned of the plan and will be evaluating it in coming days.

The return will come as the number of school employees who are vaccinated is on the rise. About 9,000 have expressed interest, with 5,000 immunized, Goldson said. She credited an effort involving the county health department and Kaiser Permanente.

With a total staff of almost 20,000, that leaves many people unvaccinated, but Goldson said interest in the shots is growing as people learn more.

Teachers are being encouraged to return to school buildings to do their virtual instruction on March 3, and they will be required to do so by March 17. It will help prepare for what is ahead, Goldson said.

Theresa Mitchell Dudley, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association, said the teachers union is pleased that Goldson allowed employees an opportunity to get vaccinated. Teachers have been anxious, she said.

“She’s taking her time to make the right decision and keep people safe,” she said. “She’s not letting anyone rush her. . . . It’s unconscionable to send people back who want to get a vaccine and don’t have one yet.”

In many areas of the state and nation, teachers have gone back to in-person learning without being vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that teachers getting vaccinated is not a prerequisite for opening schools.

Neighboring Montgomery County is bringing back small groups of students in special-ed and career programs on March 1. All students are set for a phased-in return starting March 15. The final wave of Montgomery students is expected back no later than April 26.

According to Goldson, the Prince George’s plan does not require school board approval, which may be important as the panel is engulfed in controversy. Goldson said she called every member to personally explain the plan.

“They’re all in agreement with the decisions that we made,” she said.

Prince George’s has not seen the clamor from parents to go back to school that some counties struggled with.

It may be that more people know someone who has fallen ill or died, Goldson said. Five school employees have died of covid-19, though the deaths were not related to school activities, school officials said.

“For a community that’s been impacted greatly, I think people just want to be cautious and don’t want to have too much more loss,” she said.

In a past survey of Prince George’s families, 67 percent said they wanted to stay all-virtual. But that was a few months ago and could have changed.

A new survey that opened Wednesday and closes Feb. 28 asks parents to commit to hybrid or all-virtual school.

In the interview, Goldson said that while some students thrive in online learning, the pandemic has taken a toll. Chronic absenteeism is up, as is the number of students who fared poorly in core classes, she said.

In Montgomery, first-quarter grades revealed intense fallout, with failing marks in math and English increasing as much as sixfold for some of the most vulnerable students.

Data on academic performance in Prince George’s during the pandemic was not available Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.

Prince George’s officials said athletics will also resume, with in-person conditioning after school and outdoor workouts beginning March 10 and spring sports practices starting April 6. Spring break will continue as planned, from March 29 to April 5.