Students across the county anxious as MCPS leaves them in the dark

Kylie Norris

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Photo courtesy of New America

MCPS has made many decisions this school year regarding this school year and the impact of COVID-19.

Many people in Montgomery County believe that officials have done a very poor job informing students about policies that directly affect them. For these individuals, this lack of awareness is a source of uncertainty and anxiety.

Senior Natalie Bogdon-Kornfield asserted her opinion on the decisions reached by the county this school year.

“They [the county] make a lot of choices last minute and throw different ideas in the mix before choosing one,” Bogdon-Kornfield said.

Some, like Bogdon-Kornfield, believe the county is indecisive for weeks but then acts impulsively when it comes to choosing a course of action. While they become easy to understand after several weeks, the county does not explain their resolutions in clear detail from the start. For example, the phasing-in approach has been widely considered the best idea to get children back in the classroom, but several students are unsure of when their phase will enter schools again, or what grades make up those categories. The information on the MCPS website, some of it outdated, is unclear to the average viewer, and/or requires intense analysis in order to figure out what is actually happening.

It appears as though MCPS is aware of its own shortcomings. One of the FAQs on the coronavirus dashboard is, “Why has MCPS only scored a 4 out of 5 for Implementation and Mitigation Strategies?” The response reads:

“While MCPS has adopted and put into place all five of the key Mitigation Strategies outlined by the CDC, we cannot ensure that these strategies have been applied correctly and consistently 100% of the time.”

Some error during unprecedented times is understandable, but many remarks have been made that the county has not mitigated, or “reduced the severity or painfulness of,” COVID-19. On the “Community Updates” website, one can see that MCPS puts out updates once a month, but several people believe that this sort of monthly newsletter is not enough as the coronavirus situation and the county’s response to it is constantly changing.

Teachers are also concerned about the county’s actions, as many voice their opinions about what’s going on in their classes.

Amy Vachon, one of the AP Literature teachers at WJ, commented on the likelihood that students will return to school.

“I don’t see us returning to school before the start of the fourth quarter,” Vachon said. “I think the county should take vaccine availability into account before they decide to reopen.”

And it’s not just upperclassmen and teachers with these concerns. Freshman Abby Subbian had a few things to say about possible school openings.

“I’m honestly hesitant about everything reopening because almost every school had to shut down again because someone had COVID-19, and this will end. We’ll get through this, but we have to take it slow…I can’t wait to get back to school!” Subbian said.

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