A recent surge in COVID-19 cases has made it apparent that a switch to virtual learning may again be necessary for the health of the RHS community. MCPS has been unclear about what criteria for going virtual are and has changed policies without good communication to the community. To ensure student safety and comfort MCPS should continue to provide ways for their students to receive instruction at home and maintain clear communication with the community.

Making the switch to virtual learning would be a hugely unpopular decision, and MCPS has been reluctant to make a county-wide transition to hybrid or virtual learning, with Interim Superintendent of Schools, Monifa McKnight, stating in a community update that it would be a “last resort” to switch any school to virtual learning.

Prior to Jan. 7, MCPS was using a threshold of 5% student cases to consider a 14-day transition to virtual school. On Jan. 5, the first day back from break, 126 of MCPS’s 209 schools hit the 5% threshold and the policy was rescinded soon after.

As of Jan. 18, there were 16 schools to be in virtual learning starting Jan. 20 that will return to school on Jan. 31.

MCPS currently considers a variety of factors, such as student and staff absences, unfilled sub positions, affected bus routes, and the number of cases over a 10 day period, before starting a conversation about switching a single school to virtual. That conversation considers teachers, students, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the principal of the school in question. 

While RHS and other individual schools cannot make the executive decision to switch to virtual learning, they can request a review, starting the conversation to a potential switch. The final call is made by the MCPS Executive Team.

Parents may request that their child receive virtual instruction through methods such as live-streamed classes through Feb. 11. If parents want their child to receive virtual instruction, they must contact the school to have absences excused.

“We feel like our kids learn best here.” Principal Rhoshanda Pyles said, “You’re making memories and working toward earning those credits for graduation.”

Regardless of where students learn best, they deserve to feel and be safe while they are learning. If students do not feel comfortable at school they should be given the option to receive alternative types of instruction.