JC makes the sudden call to return to virtual learning

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JC students exit the building on November 11, the final day of in-person learning.

Meghan Kerr and Belle Wilson

The JC community, for the past month, had been on the road back to normalcy by offering students the ability to come in for in-person classes once a week in addition to participating in extracurriculars such as sports and clubs. Although life this year has been different than past years, JC seemed to be on the right track to offering students more time on campus.

As of Wednesday, November 11th, President Steve DiBiagio alerted the JC community with breaking news through a widespread email. He wrote, “Since our last COVID-19 activity report in Sunday’s “Weekly Update,” the situation at John Carroll has changed rapidly.”

School Nurse Michelle Webster had been including numbers of COVID-19 positive cases the school had in the weekly email.

Mr. DiBiagio continued, “While we had no cases as of last week, as of today, we have five confirmed positive cases at John Carroll and at least seven additional cases pending results. As a result, three of our athletics teams are quarantined as are additional students and staff.”

Given this provided information, JC suspended after-school activities and started 100% virtual learning effective the morning of Thursday, November 12th.

Principal Tom Durkin said, “Obviously, I am very disappointed by our decision to go back to virtual. It is not where we want to be, but we must always prioritize the health and well-being of our community.”

As students have gone into the building more and more, even being able to play the sports they love and participate in the seasons they thought were lost, they had gotten used to a more familiar schedule.

Many students were quite upset about the sudden change from normalcy.

Junior Sydney Walsh, a tennis player, had been able to play in a few matches.  She said, “I feel like 100% online school isn’t that big of a change, but it really sucks sports are now cancelled.”

Fellow tennis player junior Katie Nichter added onto this by commenting that she was “annoyed.”

Junior Annelise Lakatta, varsity field hockey player, said “It’s a step backwards, and it’s sad that we have to stay home and not play sports.”

Sophomore Gabby Albright is on the varsity soccer team at JC. She said, “I’m sad about the games being suspended, but I know that not playing is the best thing to do for everyone’s safety and well-being.”

Sophomore Grace Griffin commented, “I was so upset to hear we were going back to full virtual because in person I felt like I was not only learning, but I was also being challenged more.”

Mr. Durkin said, “I understand students and teachers are disappointed, but we needed to make this decision to protect the health of all members of our community. Please know that our counselors are still available to help any student who is struggling with this.”

Mr. Durkin added that the decision was made because “Harford County is either actively experiencing an outbreak or is at extreme risk. COVID-19 cases are exponentially growing and/or Harford County’s COVID-19 preparedness is significantly below international standards.”

JC will be reassessing if students will stay 100% virtual after Thanksgiving. 

To make this decision Mr. Durkin said they will need to “monitor the number of active cases in our school, the metrics in Harford County, and the recommendation of medical professionals.”