THUMBS DOWN: The Carroll County Board of Education, on Wednesday, voted to suspend hybrid learning system-wide, with the exception of some small groups, and also to push back the winter high school sports season and end workouts for spring sports team effective next week. To be clear, we’re not giving a thumbs-down to these decisions, just a thumbs-down to the entire situation that is once again negatively affecting Carroll County Public Schools students. The decisions were made for the right reasons. The number of community cases of COVID-19 are spiking. Depending on the day, Carroll is seeming three or four times more positive tests than just a month ago, when hybrid learning went into effect, allowing students to return to school facilities in person twice per week. Board members clearly made these decisions with great regret, noting that they have been contacted by many, many parents who want in-person learning to continue. While transmission hasn’t been rampant in schools, there were 40 confirmed cases among students or staff members and given that Carroll is in the midst of three consecutive weeks of setting new highs for community cases of COVID-19, which, combined with spiking positivity rates put Carroll into the “limited or none” category for in-person learning based on Maryland State Department of Education guidelines, this was really the only move the board could make, regardless of how disappointing it must have been to students and parents alike. Superintendent Steve Lockard made the recommendation to suspend hybrid learning with approximately 750 students still attending in small groups for various special programs requiring hands-on learning, and to have the board reconvene Dec. 2 to reevaluate. If numbers improve, students could return Dec. 7. Also on Dec. 2, the board is expected to discuss high school sports and whether to go forward with the winter season, now set to begin with practice on Dec. 14. We’re hopeful the community COVID-19 numbers will become more manageable in time for that meeting, so students who want to do so can return to classes and extracurricular activities such as high school sports can resume, too.