Students and Staff Express Caution Regarding the Reopening Plan

Katherine Iversen, Staff Writer

Superintendent George Arlotto announced recently that he hopes to begin moving primary students to a hybrid schedule sometime in March if all goes according to plan.

However, this will only happen once all the staff has been vaccinated and is, therefore, able to return safely. Luckily, Maryland is currently in phase 1B of the vaccination process. This includes education staff, such as teachers K-12. More information about who is eligible to be vaccinated during each phase and vaccination clinics can be found on the official website for the state of Maryland.

The plan is to get both doses to the teachers before they get back into the classroom. Mr. Vincent Martirano, a tenth grade U.S. government teacher, says that he plans on getting vaccinated when possible. He shared, “I am waiting for AACPS to send out my time and date to get the first vaccine.”

The students and staff of Crofton are wary of bringing students back to school, though. Sophomore Vivian Jiang said that the idea “is an extremely troubling plan as both students and teachers are not required to take the vaccine, causing a probable risk to catch COVID-19, putting risk to the students’ loved ones as well.”

Another sophomore, Lanie Ausiello, similarly said that the plan “should not be a rushed process because safety should always be the priority over whether school is virtual or in-person.” However, she explained that “if it’s evident that enough people get the vaccine for it to be fully safe and the science supports that decision, with the proper precautions, it could be alright to return to school in March.”

Much like Jiang and Ausiello, Mr. Martirano expressed his concern but he shared that he thinks “the new hybrid plan is okay as long as the teachers who want to get vaccinated have been vaccinated and the number of COVID-19 cases begins to go down. If the covid cases remain high we should not push for opening up schools.”

This thought is shared by freshman Jonah Battista when he explained that he thinks “we should wait until the teachers have all been vaccinated and are covid free then slowly let more and more kids into schools.”

Jiang and Ausiello both said that their thoughts regarding the return are based on science and statistics. “The Board of Education’s attempt in complying with CDC guidelines is to use sanitary wipes to wipe down the tables and chairs while using hand sanitizers and masks,” Jiang explained, “but it is impossible for every student returning to school to thoroughly cleanse their area.”

As a teacher, Mr. Martirano said that he hopes to see students in person, but still believes in safety first: “I want all teachers who want the vaccine to get it and for parents to have the choice to send their child in for hybrid or continue with online.”

Meanwhile, from the student perspective, Battista opted for an optimistic approach to the plan, as long as everything goes smoothly and safely. “It looks like things are turning up and I’m hoping to be back by March,” he shared.