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Montgomery County students walk out of class to demand virtual learning amid COVID

Students at 18 schools across the county pledged to participate in the walkouts on Friday at noon.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Some Montgomery County students planned a walk out of their schools Friday in protest of the school system’s COVID learning plan.

Currently, Montgomery County Public Schools is only allowing its schools to go virtual on a case-by-case basis, in response to the omicron surge.

The move has been a point of contention in Montgomery County as many parents have asked for more transparency from the school system regarding how it is deciding which schools go virtual and which stay in person.

On Friday, students at 18 MCPS schools walked out with the demand to make classes virtual for the next two weeks.

Participating students have branded the effort as “MCPS Students for Virtual” on social media and have distributed signs for their respective schools that read “Walkout for COVID Safety”.

Nora Rudmann, a student who attends Poolesville High School, said each school planned to go about its walkout differently. She said participating students were trying to work with their campus administrators.

Either way, Rudmann said she and her friends decided to organize the walkout because they felt unsafe in their learning environment as it is now in Montgomery County.

“We don’t really know what’s going on,” she said. “We’re not really getting clear communication from the county. So, we don’t know if cases are steeply rising or steeply falling right now and we’re not getting clearly told. That’s kind of a big problem.”

MCPS released the following statement regarding the planned protests.

"Student leaders in several MCPS high schools are planning walkouts on Jan. 21 to express their sentiments regarding COVID-19’s impact on their school experience. MCPS recognizes that the pandemic has dramatically affected students’ educational experiences and supports students’ desires to voice their concerns as part of engaging in civic life.

Students have been encouraged to work closely with their school’s administrators to develop a plan that will provide them an opportunity to express their views while remaining safe on campus.

Please speak with your child to let them know that leaving school property without permission or walking out of class outside of the designated time will be considered an unexcused absence.

All staff, including system leadership, are committed to engaging students in conversations regarding how to improve their educational experience; a recent example of this type of dialogue between Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight and Student Member of the Board Hana O’Looney can be found here."

According to student organizers, students from the following schools will participate in the protest:

  • Bethesda Chevy Chase HS
  • Rockville HS
  • Clarksburg HS
  • Walter Johnson HS
  • Northwood HS
  • Northwest HS
  • Gaithersburg HS
  • Montgomery Blair HS
  • Churchill HS
  • Sherwood HS
  • Richard Montgomery HS
  • Springbrook HS
  • John F. Kennedy HS
  • Poolesville HS
  • James Hubert Blake HS
  • Walt Whitman HS
  • Loiderman MS
  • Tilden MS

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