COVID has been running rampant through Blake’s halls, like most of the country. Along with improper mask usage and the return from Winter Break, there’s another large factor that has aided in the increasing spread: so many students being at school.
As badly as we all want to go virtual, parents, staff, and students know it has its flaws. Students can speak to the education gap between in-person and virtual learning. Virtual learning didn’t always fulfill students’ needs academically or socially. A significant amount of students struggled through their time online, which isn’t an easy weight for them to hold nor does it look good for MCPS.
MCPS’ biggest reason for keeping every student in in-person school is that going virtual is a huge threat to our education. But, aside from the fact that it’s hard to get through any class without talking about how we really shouldn’t be in person, we know there are still negative impacts that remaining in the building have on all of us.
So, hear me out. I have to say it:
Going hybrid again might not be so bad.
I know, I know. How dare I even mention the virtual/in-person mix that we all hated last year. Trying to teach students in person AND on screen was less than easy, awkward, and in some cases it just didn’t work out. I know, I know. But hear me out.
If there was nothing great about the hybrid model, there was the fact that students had a choice. Students who felt their best learning and social experience relied on being in-person got that opportunity. Students who wanted to protect themselves and those in their home could stay home and still get live lessons. We were not forced into one option or another.
On top of all that, there were less people in the building. Less people, less spread, and less risk of having these large outbreaks that raise fear in the first place. Contact tracing would be significantly easier because there would be less contacts. In terms of helping to minimize COVID risk, this would be an amazing choice.
At this point in the school year, it is all or nothing for individual schools. Options to attend the virtual academy have been closed for months, and its lengthy application process may have steered many away. We are all mandated to attend in-person or we will all have to work with virtual learning, for however long. Neither of these options suit the increasing, ever-changing needs of students and staff.
Unfortunately, it would take a lot of planning and organization to situate students into a new cross-classroom environment. Is it something that could be implemented this year? Perhaps. But maybe, just maybe, the hybrid model is a valid choice.