New school year bound to bring changes

Among+the+new+additions+to+the+return+to+school+are+mask+mandates%2C+including+for+junior+Luis+Falcon.+Masks+are+required+inside+school+buildings+%28except+for+lunch%29%2C+though+they+are+optional+in+outdoor+settings.

Photo by Joaquin Moreno

Among the new additions to the return to school are mask mandates, including for junior Luis Falcon. Masks are required inside school buildings (except for lunch), though they are optional in outdoor settings.

A new school year is bound to bring changes. This year is no exception.

Among the more obvious changes to the return to in-person learning is the addition of mask mandates inside the school. 

All MCPS school buildings are requiring occupants to wear masks regardless of vaccination status this school year, a sacrifice that senior Jack Pate is willing to make. “I do not mind having to wear a mask as long as I get to go to school everyday,” Pate said.

I’m fine with the masks, but I just wish Wootton would set some actual guidelines.”

— Samir Mitri

Students like senior Samir Mitri still share concerns with the guidelines. “I’m fine with the masks, but I just wish Wootton would set some actual guidelines,” Mitri said. 

Senior Jonathan Shi agrees. “Mask wearing should be more strictly enforced. I see people with their masks below their noses all the time and no one says anything,” Shi said. 

Junior Richard McDaniel’s concerns lie in infection risk. “The problem resides in this idea of returning to school, as I do still think kids will get COVID, so I am a little bit skeptical of that. Regardless, I am very jubilant to come back to school,” McDaniel said. 

A controversial addition to the daily bell schedule is the homeroom advisory period before lunch. The 30-minute period is designed to serve as a time for students to work on assignments in other classes and visit teachers for help, as well as a time for homeroom teachers to deliver presentations and information from administration.

Students say they are not content with the advisory period. “I really do not enjoy advisory period. I think it is a big waste of time, and the presentations that are done usually deliver very useless information. I think it should be added to lunch. There would literally be no cons. You will still have time for work and studying if you need to do that, and if you don’t you can spend time freely with your friends without needing a pre-approved pass. Having time to do work is nice though,” Pate said. 

Mitri shares similar critiques. “I don’t really see the need for the advisory period. I understand that it’s supposed to help students out but I think that it’s not very well executed. I’d much rather have the time given to lunch as it’s just easier to meet with teachers, get your work done or just socialize,” Mitri said.

Shi also is disappointed in the handling of the homeroom period before lunch. “There is nothing about it that works. It is completely and utterly useless and serves nothing but to detract from my day. Why not give students the freedom to choose what to do by adding that time to lunch and therefore letting us decompress? The whole premise of advisory seems insulting by sectioning off work-break time from our actual break time: lunch. Axe advisory, put that time into lunch, stop the song-and-dance about caring about students and give us a break,” Shi said.