Frustration over paper shortage escalates


Photo by Nathan Krauzlis

Senior Sammy Pollott does his math homework. Students have returned to doing schoolwork on paper this year after over a year of all work being completed online.

People are upset. At the start of every school year, Montgomery County orders paper for each school to use. This paper is distributed and turned into assignments, quizzes and readings for students to use in their classes. However, the county has had issues in the past with ordering enough paper and oftentimes schools run out of paper only a few weeks into the year.

These issues have been even more exaggerated this year as students return into the building after a full year of virtual school. Usually quotas for the amount of paper needed are based on the total used from the previous year. Due to this, after a year where no paper was used in school, the necessary adjustments were not made for in-person school and this cycle of paper shortages was accelerated, leading to confusion from teachers and students alike.

One teacher is particularly annoyed by the lack of accountability present in the current system.

“There’s basically been no paper all year, and [MCPS] finally acknowledged the issue a few weeks ago. The issue is fixed now with new boxes in the copy room, but I’d prefer a steady supply stream, not a one time fix of Cadillac quality paper,” environmental science teacher Brock Eastman said.

Having paper in the classroom is beneficial to both students and teachers alike.“Paper ran out pretty quick because teachers wanted to get off screens after a year of virtual learning. I think paper assignments have value – I find there’s a higher quality and variety of responses with paper and it forces students to be creative without using their computer,” psychology and world history teacher Jennifer Taylor said.

Senior Sammy Pollot also had enough of doing every assignment online last year. “Doing everything online became exhausting. Homework is never fun, but having paper assignments back has been a relief,” Pollot said.

Many students didn’t notice the shortage of paper over the first month of the school year as doing assignments on chromebooks has become the norm. Still, everyone needs a break after a year of staring at screens, and doing work on paper has been a return to normal for staff and students.

These paper shortages often occur in Montgomery County and unfortunately WJ is usually caught in the middle. Teachers and students alike hope that communication can improve to avoid future disruptions so students can continue to do assignments the old fashion way, with a piece of paper and pencil in hand.