The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

DMV Students Reflect on Two Years of Learning in the Pandemic

Virginia parents protest Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order to make mask wearing optional in schools. Seniors Claire Ducharme and Andrea Villafuerte, who attend schools in Virginia, note the impact of this bill on their school communities. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Almost two years after being sent into distance learning, schools across the D.C. metropolitan area have begun removing mask mandates. In light of this major step towards normalcy, Maryland and Virginia public school students reflected on the complications they’ve experienced in school throughout the pandemic. 

Gray Rager is a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School (B-CC) in Maryland, part of the Montgomery County Public School system. Rager was firm in his critical stance on B-CC’s response to the pandemic. “[B-CC’s response] has been inadequate,” he said. “From the beginning of the pandemic until now, there’s a lot that could have been different.” 

The school was one of many that implemented a hybrid learning halfway through the 2020-2021 school year, along with providing students with masks and tests when the Omicron variant hit. While vaccination rates in the D.C. metropolitan area have been steadily increasing, Rager still notes that at the beginning of 2022, “many kids [didn’t] feel comfortable coming to school… many kids want[ed] online school.” 

Despite many of the student body sharing Rager’s sentiment, B-CC’s administration has not addressed dissatisfaction with their recent COVID-19 response. Rager notes that the school policies have not been revised and student feedback was unacknowledged after winter break. “The administration loves to pretend they care about [us] and then not do anything,” he said. 

Story continues below advertisement

Claire Ducharme, a senior attending a Fairfax County Public School (FCPS), has been relatively pleased with her school’s response. “It could definitely be improved, but I can tell that they’re at least trying,” she said. 

However, she has questioned the justification behind certain policies, like having to eat lunch in the cafeteria. “If [students] eat anywhere outside the cafeteria we get in trouble, but we can eat in the cafeteria glued to each other, which truly does not make sense to me,” she said. 

Unlike Rager, Ducharme feels that FCPS has taken student feedback into account. “I totally feel that FCPS is listening to student feedback because they heard us say that we wanted to keep our masks and went against the governor to keep us safe,” she said. 

The recently elected governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, amassed controversy over his signing of Senate Bill 739. The bill requires that Virginia schools end mask mandates and remain open for in-person instruction five days a week, according to the Virginia’s Legislative Information System. Despite this, many schools in Northern Virginia, like Arlington Public Schools and Loudoun County Public schools, continued to use mandate masks for students, something Ducharme believes has been effective in preventing COVID outbreaks. 

Andrea Villafuerte, a senior at The Potomac School in McLean, Virginia, notes that, although the majority of students at her school are vaccinated, there are still some students and parents who openly support anti-masking and anti-vaccinations. “There’s definitely anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers, which is kind of scary for the rest of us,” she said.

As schools in Virginia and Maryland have adjusted their policies for education and safety in light of COVID-19, D.C. policymakers have been faced with the challenge of developing their educational approach. WIS has risen to this challenge with policy adjustments such as the mask mandate being dropped for the Tregaron campus on Mar. 10. 

By Alexander Danielyan and Camila Levey

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All International Dateline Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *