COVID-19 continues to disrupt education

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Photo by Luke Jordan

Senior Luke Jordan holds his vaccination card. After receiving his second dose in April, he has carried it with him ever since.

Schools reopening this year have left students and teachers questioning their safety. The CDC and MCPS are constantly updating COVID-19 policies and procedures to help people stay safe.

Current COVID-19 cases and quarantine policies in Montgomery County, determined by the CDC and state mandates, are causing concern for students and staff, as cases at this school reach six as of Sept. 28. Principal Kimberly Boldon said her goal is to ensure that everyone is and stays safe, as covid is new and something that everyone is continuing to navigate. She said she is more cognizant than worried about covid in the school.

Montgomery County has a high vaccination rate at almost 70% of residents, including those not eligible due to age, according to the Montgomery County government. Boldon encourages people to educate themselves about the vaccine if they are hesitant about getting it. She is currently double vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. “Vaccinations are the way that we keep ourselves and the people we love safe,” Boldon said.

When an individual tests positive for COVID-19, the school nurse asks the person questions to figure out who they’ve been within three feet of, with masks on or off for more than 15 minutes, so they can alert all of those contacts to get tested. Questions include where they sit at lunch and who they’re with, who they’ve been next to during extracurriculars and more. Boldon said that, according to the CDC, the hallways shouldn’t be as much of a COVID-19 issue due to needing to be near one another for more than 15 minutes.

If a student comes in close contact but tests negative, they only have to quarantine if they’re not vaccinated. Quarantine protocols to keep a student updated with work include a check-in with their counselor, meetings with their teachers and work being turned in online. Boldon said the quarantine policy is still in development and administration is fine-tuning all the time to get it to the best place it can be to support students.

If last year taught me anything it’s that anything is possible.”

— Kimberly Boldon

The possibility of schools shutting down is constantly up in the air especially due to the rising number of covid cases. “If last year taught me anything it’s that anything is possible,” Boldon said.

The benefits of being able to be in school interacting with peers and learning person to person are high, but some students are still uneasy about the effect it’s having on their emotional and social well-being. Carli Katz, a junior on Poms, is one such person. “It has made it harder to do extracurriculars outside of school because I want to limit exposure and it makes practice inside the school harder because I have to wear a mask,” Katz said.

Due to virtual learning, not only were students falling behind in studies, but also with their extracurriculars and sports. Sophomore and baseball player Jai Ahuja agrees. “[Covid] caused me to miss meetings for extracurricular and practices for baseball. I fell behind my team and catching up was a struggle, especially as my physical health wasn’t as good as it was before,” Ahuja said.