Will We Go Back to Virtual Learning?


Ryan Peele, Reporter

People all across the world are experiencing flashbacks to March 2020. With the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 – a strain of the virus that is far easier to transmit than the original disease – things are, for the first time since 2020, beginning to shut down again. Though it seemed a combination of vaccines and mask-wearing was bringing the world out of the pandemic, a new variant has dragged many people back into isolation and quarantine. With the rising rate of COVID cases, people are once again beginning to question whether or not having in-person school is safe for teachers and students – even with masks and vaccines.

Students voiced their opinions on the question. Junior Parth Chaudhary said, “I think It’s the right thing [to go virtual]; I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much, but I think it’s kinda what we need to do.” 

Some students agreed. “[We should go virtual] because I don’t want to get sick and die,” said junior Olivia Martin. “I would hate it, but… so that we’re all safe… I think it’s the right decision because I value people’s health.” 

Other students disagreed. An anonymous junior stated “[we won’t go back to virtual]. If you see the effect it had on students last year, everyone got such bad grades. There was so much cheating. It wasn’t productive for anyone, and if they really care about our education, I don’t think they would [send us back to virtual]. Of course, there’s the question of safety, but with the Omicron variant, didn’t basically everyone get it? So more people have higher resistance [to COVID]. Now everyone’s getting COVID boosters and vaccines, and most of the kids at the high school are vaccinated anyway, especially because the area we live in is very vaccination-friendly.”

Still, many students are conflicted with what they want the county to do. “I actually want to [go virtual]. It was way easier, and the school gave out fewer tests and homework, I guess. But still, I’m new, so I want to meet people so hopefully [we don’t go virtual],” said sophomore Christina Hansen.

While students had their own opinions on what they wanted Loudoun County to do, a teacher shared their prediction regarding whether or not schools will actually go virtual 

“I do not [think we’ll be going to virtual learning this year],” said English teacher Mr. Kosbob. “I just don’t think it’s likely to happen in the current climate. Nobody wants to do that. Obviously what we want doesn’t necessarily dictate what happens, but at this point, I think it’s unlikely that the whole school division goes to virtual learning. If there are particularly bad outbreaks in certain areas, certain schools might have to, but I don’t think it’s likely.”

Other close-by counties are also facing the same dilemma. Nearby, Prince George’s County has already gone virtual and does not plan to return to in-person learning until at least January 31st, while Montgomery County has shut down nearly half of its school buildings. There are also concerns not only about the health of students, but also about a sheer lack of staff. In neighboring Fairfax County, for instance, school officials are being forced to hire college students to stand in for their growing number of ill teachers. Whether or not Loudoun County will be forced to throw in the towel due to lack of teachers is anyone’s guess.

While most would certainly be against a return to virtual learning, a style of education that guts the social element of school while reportedly making it harder for students to learn, LCPS may find it necessary because COVID cases have risen by nearly 1300% in the county in the last six weeks. Whether or not LCPS will send students back to virtual learning, it is important to know what the opinions of students and teachers are before the county makes decisions that will drastically impact the rest of the school year.