Will Mt. Greylock Return to Fully Remote Learning?

In the past few weeks, Berkshire County has seen an increase in COVID-19 caseloads. In response, several high schools across the County have returned to fully remote learning. Many colleges have also made the decision to go fully remote, with the hope that students can return  in late January. 

Many nearby high schools such as Hoosac Valley, Pittsfield High School, Taconic, and Drury have decided to transition to fully remote learning for the time being. These closings have prompted the Mount Greylock community to wonder if the highschool is headed for the same fate.

“We don’t have a date set to make a decision on any transition,” said Mount Greylock principal Jake Schutz. 

In response to concerns over the safety of students, faculty, and staff participating in in-person learning, Schutz said, “The plan is for Mount Greylock to transition to remote [learning] when we need to in order to keep students and staff healthy and safe. Much planning and thought have gone into setting benchmarks and frameworks to indicate when schools should transition. Some schools have reached those benchmarks and have transitioned. Mount Greylock has not.” 

Schutz added that the decision to continue with the hybrid model instead of transitioning to fully remote learning has not been a light one. 

“Daily and often hourly I confer with our nurse and superintendent among others to review our current situation.” 

Any decision made will not be made by any one person. There are very specific guidelines in place to keep the Mount Greylock community safe.

“To date,” Schutz said, “based on the Wellness Plan the district developed, the MOU language between MGEA and the district, and town, county, and state guidelines, we have not reached the threshold to transition.”

While there are strict guidelines in place, the Mount Greylock community remains split. Some students and teachers find in-person learning more beneficial and personal for them and they enjoy the social aspect that they lacked for almost seven months. Others, however, are afraid that some will be too loose with precautions over the Thanksgiving break and this could affect the health of the Mount Greylock community after the break. 

“All the other schools are shutting down,” said Senior Elizabeth Dupras, “and with the uptick of cases and flu season coming, I think I would feel better if school closed [for in-person learning].” 

“I don’t think I’m in danger, but there are a lot of people who are. There’s this idea that a lot of people have which is that kids aren’t that in danger, they don’t really get it as much, but they’re forgetting the people who aren’t kids in school. There are a number of colleagues and peers that I would worry about,” said  Matthew Fisher, an English teacher at Mount Greylock. “I would never want to teach remote, but it beats death.”

Remote learning is far from the best way to learn. Teachers and students alike can agree with this. But when do the drawbacks of remote learning trump a school-wide outbreak?

However, Schutz is positive about the future and said that numerous precautions are being taken in school and communication is at an all-time high to ensure the safety of the Mount Greylock community. 

“Mount Greylock students and staff have been extremely diligent about following health and safety protocols and I want to thank them. Mask wearing and hand washing continues to be a priority and a norm. Communication between faculty, staff, and students has been quick, consistent, and effective.”