Should Monomoy schools go remote or stay in person?

Monomoy High School staff sets up and prepares for students to do pooled testing.

Monomoy High School staff sets up and prepares for students to do pooled testing.

Emily Layton, Contributing Writer

With the arrival of 2022, we have also welcomed the return of an increase in COVID cases around the world. There were around 70 million COVID instances in the United States this week. Here in Massachusetts, about 1.5 million of the cases were reported. Only two Massachusetts schools have switched to remote learning, while those that remain open are dealing with quarantines and shifting restrictions.

For the 2020-2021 school year, MRHS was hybrid. This model showed that for every two days a student was in class, they spent one day online. They also had a completely remote option. They subsequently phased out the hybrid and fully remote options as the school year continued, adhering to stringent COVID-19 requirements. There was not an online option offered for the 2021-2022 academic year. Everyone had to wear a mask when they entered the building. The rules were gradually relaxed, and things began to feel “normal.”

Every Monday, the Monomoy district offers “pooled testing” for both students and staff  in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. Students with parental/guardian permission swab their noses and place them in a tube, which is subsequently tested. If any of the vials’ swabs come back positive, students are summoned and retested to locate the positive case.

However, this doesn’t always go as planned when there could be false negatives and positives. In a pool testing in December, one swab appeared to be positive during the first round of testing but when it came time to retest, all students continued to come back negative over and over and a few days later, one finally sparked positive.

Following recent testing after the Christmas break, approximately 30 pools (district-wide) came back positive, with approximately 12 from MRHS. This caused almost 200 students to be absent from school. Monomoy did not let down its guard after this and remained open for all students.

All of the positive cases, however, resulted in lengthy quarantines for the COVID-positive patient and, in some circumstances, their close relatives. One of the individuals who recently tested positive for COVID was Kate Small, a freshman at MRHS. “Keeping up with all of my schoolwork while I was out was extremely difficult. I was symptomatic and not feeling well, but I knew I’d be so far behind if I didn’t finish the work I’d missed each day.”

When asking MRHS students if they wanted to stay in person or go remote, the majority stated they wanted to stay in person. 

“For the time being, I’d prefer to stay in person,” Kate Small adds, “but with the upcoming February break, I think we should go remote for a bit after that because a lot of people will be traveling and may pick it up elsewhere.”

Cases are starting to get under control again, but new ones are popping up every day, leaving us to question if Monomoy will ever go remote.