RCMS community grapples with plans for next year

Staff+and+students+wonder+if+the+school+can+be+opened+in+September.

Staff and students wonder if the school can be opened in September.

Arnav Jadhav, Writer

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down many things worldwide, including sports leagues, offices, and arguably most importantly, schools. The final four months of the school year were cancelled.

Now schools are trying to adapt to this pandemic next year.

Making the switch from going to school to distance learning in over a month was tough for schools. According to the FCPS website, schools are slowly eyeing the return of school next year if the current situation gets better over the summer, but FCPS announced that at this rate, distance learning will probably continue into next year.

Atharva Kulkarni, a seventh-grader on the Champions team, believes there will be no school in-person next year.

“At the rate that the number of [COVID] cases are going up, then probably not,” Atharva said. “It should rather be dependent on what the parents think is best for their kids.”

Whatever is going to happen in September is also unclear from a teacher’s perspective.

“I actually don’t know how next year is going to go, either if [staff and students] begin going to school again or we will completely resort to distance learning,” said Mrs. Sona Sharma-Chibber, seventh-grade science teacher. “I only know that we have to hope for the best and adapt to anything new that comes our way.”

FCPS isn’t the only county facing this problem. Schools and counties nationwide are also in the same situation.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated that counties across the nation are slowly eyeing reopening in the fall, and that it depends on the county and region if they want to reopen or not. The schools that will not reopen will be forced to use distance learning for the year. However, he also stated that if it is possible for a county or state to reopen, then they should do so.

Dr. Fauci also stated that schools may have to be flexible about schedules when they open. For example, some kids go in the morning, some in the afternoon. While this method may seem difficult to pull off because of all the confusion, it is still viewed as a possible way to carry out school in September.

This method would lead to all sorts of changes, including different arrival and departure times for both staff and students, classroom spacing (students won’t be able to sit right next to each other), what students wear, and even how students would get to school in the first place.

Students returning to school would always be the first option if safety allows rather than distance learning. 

Distance learning has not been easy, as a student could miss class because of connectivity issues, or if a student doesn’t pay attention the teacher won’t notice. If distance learning carries on next year, school will look very different.

Grading also raises a lot of questions. How will grading work, does accuracy matter, will there be any tests? 

“I think that there shouldn’t be any grades,” said Atharva. “Many kids are doing classes outside of school now that they’re at home all day. Online classes can also get very hectic and unorganized at times.”

Many students also feel as if learning in school is both more effective and easier then distance learning.

“[Learning in school] would be much easier because we would all focus on what we’re being taught instead of getting distracted while sitting at home,” says Jeev Jambunathan, seventh-grader on the Trailblazers. “It would also be much easier to learn and complete assignments.”

There is also a positive side to distance learning, as if it carries on through next year, students will be at least used to how it works.

“Things are looking risky right now,” said Atharva. “It is going to be very tough to reopen in September, even if it is really slowly. We’ve never experienced anything like this before, so anything can happen.”

Other students, however, are confident that this problem will be surmounted.

“I’m not worried,” said Jeev, “because distance learning was handled pretty well by both teachers and students. It is definitely possible to do it again in September.”

Jeev believes that it should be looked at from different perspectives.

“From an education standpoint, distance learning was handled well. However from a safety and health perspective, it depends on technology and how far we are in developing a vaccine.”