Many in the community, including several of the county commissioners, criticized the school board’s decision on Monday to send Carroll County Public Schools students back to school in a hybrid format this week. We did, too, We wrote in this space earlier this week that the board failed to follow through on what it put in place as prerequisites for resuming hybrid.
Additionally, we agree with some of the points made at Monday’s Carroll County Board of Education meeting in response to reasons given for returning to hybrid. Health Officer Ed Singer noted that some of the studies or opinions cited by members of the public commenting were out of date, recycled from when COVID-19 seemed under control before the ongoing second wave far surpassed the first. Commissioner Dennis Frazier pointed out that not all of the states board members were referring to as currently conducting school in person were actually doing so at the present time.
And Frazier also noted the folly of comparing CCPS to the much smaller private schools, who have been successful in keeping COVID out of their classrooms by using mitigation strategies that CCPS can not or will not. Frazier suggested requiring the school system’s students to produce a recent negative COVID-19 test to resume in-person learning, and then mandating a new negative test every two weeks as he said Gerstell Academy does, but that idea went nowhere.
Finally, we note that one of the board’s favorite arguments for resuming in-person learning might’ve actually been a solid reason to remain virtual. Board members repeatedly pointed out that Maryland is doing well, relatively speaking, against COVID-19, citing a study showing the state 10th in preventing the spread. Meanwhile, they noted states across the country not doing nearly as well, such as Pennsylvania, that are nevertheless conducting in-person learning. But what if one of the reasons Maryland is doing so well is that students are not going to school and contributing to the spread, and one of the reasons Pennsylvania is doing poorly is that students are going to school, contributing to the spread.
But the time for arguing about this is in the past. While we hope the board will take into account attendance data for students and staff members as well as what CCPS personnel, such as teachers, have to say in future meetings about how hybrid is going, we also realize board members committed fully and stated that there would be no going back unless they were mandated to do so by the state.
With hybrid likely here to stay, we urge the community to rally around our students and educators and schools and help make this work. Maybe that means becoming a substitute teacher. Or applying to drive a bus. Or volunteering to help in whatever capacity a school needs. Maybe it just means not being a poisoning presence on social media, accepting other parents’ decisions and not making vile posts alluding to impending deaths.
Everyone should want the same thing here and that is for students to be successful. Academically and emotionally. That’s what the board members want, too. They were most distressed by both the objective and subjective — the poor first quarter grade performance and anecdotal evidence presented by parents concerned about their kids’ emotional well-being — and decided that virtual learning was mainly at fault.
The board members were elected to make decisions like this. Agree or disagree, every Carroll countian should now be rooting that they made the right one.