Montgomery County Public School students from at least 18 different high schools staged a walk out today at noon, in support of MCPS moving schools to virtual instruction for two weeks while COVID-19 cases are at higher levels.
According to the Instagram account @mcpsstudentwalkout2022, which has gained over 1,000 followers in less than a week, the students are demanding the following from MCPS:
- 2 week move to virtual instruction
- The option of remote/blended learning
- Necessary tools to thrive during temporary virtual learning, including teacher preparation time
- More frequent and diversified Covid testing for students and staff
- Adequate PPE and cleaning supplies for students and staff
- Transparency from the Board of Education
The account, which has led to the creation of similar accounts for individual schools within the county, also mentions the transportation issues MCPS has been dealing with.
In a recent post from earlier today, the students are also advocating for better mental health resources for students and staff, more inclusive and accessible virtual learning for neurodivergent students, and better financial support for students and staff during virtual learning, noting that they are not only advocating for physical safety.
Earlier this month, a Change.org petition was started was started by Zoe Cantor, a students at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, who felt unsafe at schools with MCPS’ current COVID-19 guidelines. The petition has received over 20,000 signatures as of Friday, January 21.
Amid the recent surge of COVID cases in the country, specifically the omicron variant, it is unsafe to hold students in schools that do not mandate any social distancing and allow masks to be taken off.
A month ago, MCPS announced that if a school reached a student infection rate of 5 percent, the school would be reviewed by MCPS and the Department of Health and Human Services to go virtual for two weeks. County officials are scared now — one day after winter break, 11 schools were above the 5% rate, and two days later, 126 schools were.
Not expecting this extreme upsurge, the county is scrambling now, trying to force us to stay in school, even though they know it is unsafe. Their justification? A social media interaction between the county and Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Governor Larry Hogan. Ricci said, “The 5% is not a metric for the suspension of in-person learning or a conversation about it, and should not be used that way by any school system.”
Larry Hogan: the governor who announced that Maryland is in a “state of emergency,” with COVID hospitalizations increasing by 500% due to omicron. We need to resist this hypocrisy and keep students and MCPS staff members safe, not to mention possibly immunocompromised family members.
Featured photo courtesy of the @mcpsstudentwalkout2022 instagram account.