Montgomery County Public Schools welcomes students with new changes

Monday was the first day of school for students participating in the new four-days a week in-person learning.

Blacksburg, Va. – Hauling in air purifiers, dividers and tents, Montgomery County Public Schools welcomed students back with many changes.

Equipped with disinfectant wipes, socially distanced desks and passing a fire inspection, tents were installed outside at each school.

Each tent can hold about 20 students.

“We know that outdoors is safer than indoors, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Miear said. “We thought of the idea of providing outdoor dining at all of our schools.”

Inside the cafeteria, a sea of dividers lined the tables as students and staff now must double mask while walking in hallways.

Molly McPherson, a Blacksburg High School senior, returned to school and said while her classes were more socially distant, the hallways were not.

“The hallways were very crowded and a little scary, they felt exactly as they had one year ago,” McPherson said.

Air purifiers were also added to each classroom.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and money in our air quality,” Miear said. “Air quality is probably the number one thing we focused on.

The superintendent said attaining all the safety supplies throughout this year cost more than one million dollars.

Despite the extra safety measures, some students still did not feel comfortable returning to school.

“Although I would really like to be back in person,” Lauren Collver, a Blacksburg High School senior, said. “I really do not like remote learning. It just did not feel safe to me to go back.”

However, Collver said she appreciates the school district’s efforts.

But feels there are still too many unknowns about the virus and wants to feel a sense of normalcy if she returns.

“Having the masks and the face shields and the dividers and the very strict policies that really doesn’t feel right.”

The superintendent said they will monitor the new changes in the coming weeks to see if any adjustments must be made.

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