WJ community reacts to news of possible reopening

Aya Hesham

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Photo courtesy of MCPS

Ever since the last day of in-person school, many teachers, students, and parents are unaware as to when students will return back to in-person school.

After spending nearly nine months in quarantine and virtual school, Montgomery County Public Schools has announced their plan to send students back to school in phases starting in January.

MCPS began the school year in August fully virtual but has reevaluated the opening plan after many parents and students have favored ending virtual school and immediately open up in-person school.

“I think that as it’s declared safe to go back to in-person, we should go back considering the fact that in-person is safer for everyone but I personally prefer online school because I feel like it’s easier and I don’t have to wake up as early,” junior Karen Howell said.

The returning of schools will depend on two main factors: the county’s average daily increase in cases over 14 days and the two-week average of cases per 100,000 people, according to Bethesda Beat.

Students will gradually be brought in starting with students who have struggled the most with online learning such as students in special education programs, English language learners and others, according to the Bethesda Beat.

After that, students will be phased in by grade. The first group of students to be phased in will be the kindergarten, first grade, sixth grade and freshmen. Second, the pre-kindergarten, second grade, third grade, seventh grade, and sophomore students. And lastly the fourth grade, fifth grade, eighth grade, juniors, and senior students.

“I think it’s a great idea to start phasing students in, I just hope we do it safely and ensure that all CDC regulations are being followed,” junior Jazmine Robinson said.

Some students oppose the idea of going back to in-person school claiming that they have adjusted to the new virtual school schedule and the hours of the school day. Students also worry about not being in the same “group” as their friends going back to school. Students believe they may go back depending on grade level or alphabetically by last names.

While some students oppose the idea of returning to in-person school, many are in support of it. Many students have struggled with virtual learning and claim that learning in person is much easier than virtually.

“I feel very happy about returning to in-person school because I finally get to see my friends. School is not the same online and is much harder for me; I think I’ll learn better in school,” junior Sara Susa said.

Teachers don’t have much of a say in the decision to reopen schools, they received an email about the three different types of leaves for which they can apply. If their doctor says they are at risk there are options, but if that is not the case, MCPS may call teachers back and may not depend on numbers.

Many teachers at WJ don’t feel as if the county is ready to reopen just yet claiming that teachers who are high risk or live with someone who is, are more hesitant to be back in the building anytime soon.

“In an ideal scenario, I would love for schools to reopen because I miss being in person with students. That being said, I don’t think the county is ready for us to re-open. I think it’ll be a while before schools can safely re-open,” math teacher Laura Brager said.

Although those plans seem very solid at the moment, Superintendent Jack Smith said that if the pandemic worsens, plans could possibly change.