Going virtual… again?


Recently, the possibility of transferring into full virtual learning has hit a high with Covid-19 cases spiking each day, especially in the DC metro area. On Jan. 13, the new cases on that day alone surpassed 2,000 in Fairfax County.

FCPS has been working hard to ensure that if the return to virtual does happen that students of all different backgrounds have the equal opportunity to learn. School issued laptops and chargers were distributed at the start of the year, and now MiFi devices, wireless hotspots, are being given to students without internet access at home.

AHS has been determined to remain in person, mitigating the effects of the pandemic through mask wearing, required vaccination for sports, the suspension of second chance breakfast, and contact tracing have all helped reduce the spread of coronavirus on school grounds and other school related events.

In the previous weeks, with the chance that schools will have to go virtual, students have participated in W4 lessons to prepare them.

“I think it was super helpful that students and teachers had this chance,” freshman Leo Marzigliano said. “Ensuring that we all know how to access all the functions, including Zoom, through the new learning management system will help school run smoothly in the event we do return virtual.”

Many students worry that they will fall into their old habits of the previous year of virtual learning.

“Last year when we were all online, I know myself and many other students and even teachers found it hard to find motivation. I found myself trying to just stay awake in class and complete all my assignments on time,” junior Jessup Gravitt said. “But, doing online school would be much better than contracting Covid-19. Pushing over 2,000 kids into a confined space for 8 hours a day won’t help to lower the amount of infections.”

Students also found that during virtual learning, getting help from teachers had its challenges.

“Online school was hard to navigate all the different websites and the whole office hours situation and trying to get help from teachers was complicated,” senior Hadley Hotaling said. “In person is much better since it’s much more engaging and easier to get help from teachers.”

Many teachers agree that in-person learning is the best option for students, but understand the need to go virtual.

“I believe students learn best in a face-to-face setting. However, if we do have to return virtual, I know it will be temporary and for everyone’s safety,” history teacher Stratton Shartel said. “I am glad we practiced accessing online resources in W4. I would like to practice even more since we used a different system last year.”

Virtual learning is also to be used in FCPS during days of inclement weather. Students are set to have synchronous virtual learning after the five snow days are used up.

Students and teachers alike believe that virtual learning on snow days should not be used.

“I understand the importance of students not losing instructional time, but I think virtual learning on snow days will pose challenges,” Shartel said.

With all the different threats to in-person learning and the opinions staff and students have on virtual learning, Annandale has still prepared for a possible transition to virtual learning.