For the last two weeks, the Patriot community has been getting back to hybrid learning by offering in-person classes once a week for students, along with extracurriculars such as sports and clubs.
The return to the in-person 25% learning came after a few weeks of only virtual learning that surrounded the Thanksgiving holiday.
On Wednesday, November 11, 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 information to the JC community of how many COVID-19 positive cases the school had in the weekly email updates.
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 athletic 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 12.
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 had 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 have gotten used to a more familiar schedule. Some students were quite upset about the sudden change in what had become normal with the hybrid schedule.
Junior Sydney Walsh, a tennis player who had been able to play a few matches due to the continued sports season said, “I feel like 100% online school isn’t that big of a change, but it really sucks sports are now canceled.”
Fellow tennis player Junior Katie Nichter added on to this by saying she was “annoyed.”
Junior Annelise Lakatta, a 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, a varsity soccer team member, 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 provided advice to students and teachers who were upset by the return to pure virtual learning. “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 said 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.”
In order to reassess if students would stay 100% virtual after Thanksgiving, Mr. Durkin said they would need to “monitor the number of active cases in our school, the metrics in Harford County, and the recommendation of medical professionals.”
After Thanksgiving, Mr. DiBiagio alerted the JC community on December 2 that school, “will be resuming in-person learning on Monday, December 7th through Thursday, December 17th, following our 25% hybrid model.”
This was because “the Harford County transmission metrics indicate the surge has subsided as have the confirmed positive cases reported within the John Carroll Community. These factors, along with our effective campus protocols for student safety, support this decision.”
Additionally, the announcement was made to return from Christmas break with one week of distance learning before resuming the hybrid model.
Distance learning will resume the week of January 4-8 and then, “barring any significant changes in metrics,” students will return to the hybrid model on Monday, January 11.
This decision to return for the two weeks before Christmas break surprised many and in result, many teachers and students decided to stay home.
Junior Kamyrn Rittmeyer said, “School is going to be way too cold, and most of my teachers will be at home, so I’d just be in the gym most of the day.”
Regardless, JC, ensures that “every student has a positive academic and personal experience through the remainder of this school year.”
This article was updated to reflect the return to in-person learning beginning on December 7.