By Uma Ribeiro and Sarah Meklir 

In-Depth Editors


The Bear Press asked Hammond students to give their opinion on Governor Larry Hogan’s decision to send students back to school by March 1st and the subsequent decision of the Howard County Board of Education to allow students to choose whether or not to return to a hybrid learning model. Students also commented on how they are feeling regarding the change in schedule that will occur with the start of hybrid learning. 

The approved student hybrid in-person model is as follows: Students who have been identified for the 5-days-a-week program will return in-person the week of March 1st. Students in pre-K to second grade will return the week of March 15th. Students in grades 3-5, 6, 9, 12, and those who participate in Career and Technical Education at ARL can return the week of March 29th, and lastly, the week of April 12th is when seventh and eight graders and students in grades 10 and 11 have the option to return.

All students have the option to remain entirely virtual as well. However, all students, whether virtual or in-person, will experience a schedule change beginning March 1st. The school day will now begin at 7:45 AM and each class will be 85 minutes long. Some students chose to remain anonymous in their responses when commenting on these changes:

Anonymous, Grade 10:

“It should only be for people who really need it. If you want to go back to “see friends,” that is selfish.” 

Anonymous, Grade 11:

“I’m staying home because I don’t want to go back if it’s not going to be normal. I’d like to know for a fact that it’s safe to go back, and therefore not have to worry about anything while I’m at school. I also would like to go back and see all my friends and teachers like normal. I know that all my friends share my concerns, and therefore set going back to the building, so for that reason, seeing my friends by doing hybrid learning isn’t possible.”

Adom Amissah, Grade 11:

“I still think it’s not that safe for students to go back to school, as there is a second strain of Covid in Maryland. As for the schedule change, I believe that the idea of 85 minute classes will drain students.”

Autumn Worthington, Grade 11:

“Honestly, they should just wait to return to school next school year. Why rush going back to school in the middle of the school year when you can wait until next year? This would allow for everyone to still be quarantined and stay home.”

Sarah Quade, Grade 11:

“We should not be held to the same standards in a damn pandemic.” 

Anonymous, Grade 11:

“For both people who are returning to the building and people who are remaining virtual, the new schedule is going to be so draining. It is hard enough for students to sit in a classroom for 50 minutes, let alone 85, and for those still at home, it is hard enough staring at a screen all day.” 

“The new schedule seems as though it will inconvenience both students and teachers. And as for going back to school in-person at all, I understand the need for some students who do not work well in an online environment to go back, but I feel like safety is what is still what is most important right now and we have made it so far.”

Anonymous, Grade 12:

“…If you still have to wear a mask and maintain 6ft distance it is clearly not safe. Also for the change in schedule, having classes from 7:30 to 3 is a lot! If this is the case there should be no asynchronous work at all.”

Skylar Shaffer, Grade 12:

“I’m doing in person for many reasons, [but] mostly because I can change my mind. Also I’m going to have to do work on my computer either way, and the wifi at home is so frustrating. I’d rather blame it on Hammond’s wifi than my own.”

“[The push to re-open schools is] not great! I think if students have a choice [about whether to return in-person], teachers should too. And if they don’t, that’s not fair. Let’s just say I’m glad I can vote in the next election.”

“I think [the productivity of hybrid schools] all depends on who you are with and who is teaching. If you are not going to wear your mask and do your part, just stay home. It also depends on the type of class; the arts are going to be weird! But we certainly are innovative.”

Ama Stott, Grade 12:

“I am planning to return in-person, because I want to go in the building at least one more time before graduation! If I go back and it doesn’t feel safe then I will switch to virtual, but for now I want to at least give it a chance.”

“I’m not sure about the push to reopen schools. The mandate to open schools by March 1 led to a very rushed timeline and made it difficult to figure everything out. I wish they had given more warning before that date, so there was more time for student input and more time for us to make a decision on whether we go back. I also would have liked if we had more information before having to make that decision.”

“I feel that it is possible for school to be productive while abiding with safety measures and abiding by the virtual and in-person differences, but I’m not sure it will happen in reality. It will be very difficult for the teachers to have to change all of their plans and instruct two different groups at once, and it hasn’t been very clear how that will pan out. I’m not sure that it will be as productive, but we can only wait and see.”