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Our View: Thumbs up for a snow day, a warm place in winter, choices for learning | COMMENTARY

THUMBS UP: Everybody loves a snow day once in a while, and Carroll County saw its first of 2021 when a winter storm passed over most of the state as we welcomed February on the calendar. More than 8 inches of snow fell in some places around Carroll, and a lot of the county shut because of the inclement weather. McDaniel College closed during the storm, but students were online only at the start of the spring semester. Carroll County Public Schools also were closed on what was supposed to be the first day of the second semester. Carroll County Government closed for a day. There were about a dozen collisions reported along county roads as well during the winter storm. But the wintry precipitation had kids and adults alike getting outside the enjoy some frigid fun. Snow began last Sunday before noon and continued to fall into Tuesday evening. Even during a lull in the snowfall, county residents traveled to McDaniel’s campus to take advantage of its popular sledding hill. There had been enough snow in the storm’s early stages to cover McDaniel’s hillside along Md. 31, the west side of campus, where people turn the shoulder into a line of parked cars at the bottom of the sledding tracks. “It’s so fun,” Yoko Bassler of Westminster told us while she enjoyed sled rides with her husband and two young children. “It takes me back to my childhood.”

THUMBS UP: A new emergency shelter in Carroll County was put to good use this past week during the winter storm. The basement of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Westminster has been transformed into an emergency shelter, where individuals can warm during the day or spend the night without preregistering. The center offers hot drinks, activities, and a light lunch during the day and dinner for residents at night. The shelter has been operational since November and is being run by Human Services Programs of Carroll County — a private nonprofit that works with with the county to combat homelessness. The organization has been serving the county’s homeless for 30 years. In previous years, HSP has run a cold weather shelter out of the Westminster senior center. But because of COVID-19, senior centers are closed. Also, the Carroll County Public Library branches had previously worked with the homeless population to provide heat and bathroom services, but they have been closed as well. The shelter at St. Paul’s was funded through a community development grant. “When everything shut down, that really impacted the homeless population because there were all these places that people would go,” HSP executive director Scott Yard told us. “They might get a library, they might go to the mall, they might go to just different service. And with all those closed, that’s what triggered us to say, hey, we need to create a day center because there’s nowhere else to go.”

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THUMBS UP: We’re glad to see Carroll County students and their families seeking learning alternatives if they aren’t comfortable attending school in-person amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half of CCPS parents have kept their students fully online even after the school system resumed hybrid learning. Even those who opt for the hybrid model, which means in-person classes twice a week, are learning online every Wednesday and two other each week. Some of them depend on programs like the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster to assist with virtual learning either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, when their student is not inside the classroom. Erin Bishop, marking director of the Boys & Girls Club, told us although schools have opened back up, her organization still has about 100 kids each week using its services. The program is available to all kids in the county, but Bishop told us they try to prioritize those with the highest level of needs, like those who are homeless, students who need extra support and children of first responders. “We’re working really closely with Carroll County Public Schools so we know who needs extra support,” Bishop said.

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