Virtual Learning: Going Back

After semester one, Howard County is planning on going back into the buildings using a hybrid model of learning. If you were unaware, the hybrid model proposed for Howard County is that students will be divided into two groups, labeled “A” and “B.” 

The “A” group will be in the buildings on Mondays and Tuesdays doing synchronous work while the “B” group will go on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be the same asynchronous work day for all students, leaving time to allow for disinfecting the buildings.

According to the school system website, “The Howard County Public School System and Board of Education are evaluating possibilities for a hybrid instructional model for the second semester, beginning February 1, 2021, which could include opportunities for in-person instruction. A hybrid model could provide an option for parents/guardians to send their child to school part of the week and learn virtually for the remainder of the week.”

Currently, because of the number of Covid-19 cases around us, this is not the safest option for the students, staff, and community members of the county. Even if the county took all of the safety precautions, per recommendation of the CDC, it would not be enough to keep the students and faculty guarded from the virus. This includes effective mask wearing, proper social distancing, and taking all of the disinfecting measures. To keep everyone as safe as possible, the most effective solution will be to remain virtual through the rest of the 2020-2021 school year. 

With flu season approaching, we are not only bound to see an increase in not just the number of Covid-19 cases, but also in the number of cold and flu cases. Second semester begins in February, which is the peak of flu season. Sending students and faculty back into the buildings would be irresponsible and make for a lot of different illnesses that could potentially be spread throughout the building.

Upon a safe return, there will have to be staff members monitoring effective mask wearing and proper social distancing among students. In order for students to transition classes, the hallways will also have to be patrolled and every desk will have to be disinfected, before a student could take their respective seat. The schools cannot provide enough staff members to take on all of these new responsibilities. 

Going back to in person learning will also require students to be responsible and take the proper Covid-19 precautions to keep themselves and their peers safe. Students, of all grade levels, cannot handle all of the new rules being put in place. Those of younger ages, like kindergarten through second graders, will not be able to manage wearing a mask and distancing themselves away from their peers for an entire school day.

As a student, there are so many things to consider when making the decision to return or stay home. If you feel that staying at home is the safest option, then opt for a fully virtual rest of the school year. If you are getting restless and cannot focus at home, then opt for the hybrid option for a chance to have in person instruction. In the end, it all comes down to your personal preference and comfort levels.

A Parent/Guardian survey has been sent out to legal guardians requesting opinions on the new hybrid reopening plan for the spring semester. The purpose of this survey is to see how many students will be participating in hybrid learning, and how many students would choose the fully virtual option, to create a general idea of what returning in the spring will look like.

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