Students‌ ‌giving‌ ‌opinions‌ ‌and‌ ‌responding‌ ‌to‌ ‌Covid‌ ‌after‌ ‌winter‌ ‌break‌ ‌

Covid+cases+rose+drastically+in+January.

Graph used with permission from Google Commons

Covid cases rose drastically in January.

During winter break, despite schools in the county reaching the threshold of 5% and Wotton being a red zone, MCPS still decided to not go into the 14-week virtual learning period. MCPS said, “When schools reach the 5% threshold – and enter the red category – MCPS will then confer with DHHS about the best next steps, including the possibility that the school transitions to 14 days of virtual learning. The transition to virtual learning is not automatic.

I think the cases were high and it was dangerous. I knew a lot of people who got Covid.”

— Neil Kotval

During breaks, people go on vacations, see their relatives or meet up with friends, which causes a spike in cases. Going virtual seemed like the smartest option, so when we went back to school after winter break, it raised a lot of concern among parents, teachers and students. Freshman Neil Kotval said, “I think the cases were high and it was dangerous. I knew a lot of people who got Covid.”

There are upsides and downsides to both in-person and virtual learning. In-person allows for connections with friends and teachers while virtual learning allows those who have social anxiety to be able to ask questions more easily. Technology teacher Anthony Shadman said that virtual learning, “provided opportunities for people who have serious concerns during the pandemic to be more flexible and it gave students who weren’t comfortable asking questions to ask questions.”

Although both ways of learning are beneficial, which is better depends on the person. One person would struggle with virtual learning, but do well in in-person learning. Kotval, who prefers virtual learning, said, “I could do whatever I wanted. Like I could watch TV while I was in a class. It was easier; there were less assignments.”

A day before winter break, the cases in Maryland were at 638,612. When we went back to school two weeks later, there were 850,558 confirmed cases. As of Feb. 22 in Montgomery County, there are over 165,000 confirmed cases. Freshman Elizabeth Zhu said, “The amount of cases were and still are very concerning.”

The cafeteria and Commons are popular places for friends to meet up and talk before school starts. However, students do not always follow the requirements such as wearing their mask properly. Kotval said the school should, “enforce social distancing more. Enforce people not crowding the hallways.”

Friends are usually physically closer to each other. They can give each other high fives, hugs or even lift their masks to talk. Because friends are people you are close with, it is easy to forget about Covid and the mandates that come with it. Freshman Lynn Park said, “When the Covid case numbers were getting higher, I decided it was best to sit away from my friend group because it’s a huge group and are all very touchy and no-personal-space kind of people. I also barely took off my mask, and if I did, it was to drink water since I know that helps prevent Covid.”

Coming home from school, it is important to make sure personal belongings are sanitized including phones, headphones and Chromebooks that could have been used on unsanitary surfaces. Zhu said, I sanitize my belongings after school and wash my hands after school.”