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Schools Closing Again?

It’s been a tumultuous year, and the latter end of it surely is managing to live up to those same standards. Throughout navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of whether or not to reopen schools has been a highly contested one. The verdict revealed a mixed result: some schools attempted a full-time reentrance while others opted for a hybrid option. The remaining began with a fully virtual experience. As case numbers fluctuate, so do the decisions of schools. After a swift partial reopening of many public schools, optimism has rescinded following disheartening statistics. However, some other private schools have continued with in-person learning.

At the start of the school year, the majority of public schools made a uniform decision about reopening. Schools such as Souderton, Lower Merion, and Plymouth Whitemarsh began virtual but embarked on their hybrid journey as of early October. On the contrary, Upper Dublin and Wissahickon remained fully virtual for the entire first quarter. Most of these public schools in Montgomery County, however, shifted to a hybrid model by the beginning of November. Its success was brief, however, as the county ordered a two-week shutdown period for all schools beginning on Nov. 23 through Dec. 6. While this left many students and families uncertain, many schools have opted to return back to hybrid learning amidst numerous rallies and gatherings from district members advocating for in-person options. Students have the option to remain completely online, but many desire otherwise. Public schools are maneuvering through these difficulties day by day.

For private schools there has been a higher trend of students who learn on campus. . Germantown Academy has held its Lower and Middle School students in the school every day, while Upper School students participated in the hybrid model. Penn Charter started its youngest students in-person and gradually incorporated their older students into the building whether completely in person or hybrid. The two-week mandated shutdown still affected private schools in Montgomery County, but many of them had students in- person for a longer period of time, whereas many public schools were early into their reintegration phase at the time of the shutdown. Philadelphia County made the executive decision to continue virtual learning until further notice. There are many different approaches schools have taken.

Surely, there is no right answer to schooling in these unprecedented times. It is evident that many schools are experimenting with various methods, some finding more success than others. Some are optimistic that doors can remain open, but the future still remains uncertain.


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