COVID-19 Uncertainties Continue for Rising Seniors

by Shirley Zheng ‘21

As the Class of 2020 graduates, the focus and concerns for COVID-19 disruptions transitions to the rising seniors, the Class of 2021. As the number of coronavirus cases continue to spread and skyrocket nationally and globally, the Class of 2021 stumbles across many uncertainties for their senior year, such as virtual internships, revised college admission requirements, alternative SAT/ACT testing dates, and reopening of schools during the fall.

In-person internships seem unrealistic in the fall as many businesses remain closed due to COVID-19. MCPS’ solution for this issue is to incorporate a virtual internship option for rising seniors until coronavirus gets under control and Montgomery County is safe for reopening. This causes distress for rising seniors as it is something new and might make it more difficult for students to find businesses that will reopen in the fall, and will allow and want to work with virtual interns during this stressful time.

As for standardized testing, the College Board and ACT both had to cancel several test dates due to the conditions of COVID-19 in the last couple of months. To make up for these lost testing opportunities, the College Board has added new testing dates in the fall, and ACT has kept their June testing in multiple locations. The College Board will provide testing dates available every month starting August up until December 2020. Along with new test dates, both the College Board and ACT have also previously announced that if schools choose to remain closed in the fall due to COVID-19, they will provide at home SAT and ACT testings. However, the College Board has delayed this plan indefinitely due to concerns of technology disruptions. “While we will continue to deliver the SAT online in some schools, we do not want to introduce the stress of extended at-home testing in this already disrupted admissions season,” said the College Board. These uncertainties make it difficult for the Class of 2021 to complete its standardized testing requirements for college application by winter 2020.

 Thus, to accommodate these testing variabilities, many colleges, such as Boston University and Columbia University, have decided to make standardized testing scores optional during the college application process for the Class of 2021. Some colleges, like University of California schools, even went as far as canceling the test requirements completely in future admissions. However, the majority of colleges in the United States have chosen to keep their requirement of SAT or ACT testing score, or have yet to announce whether they will go test optional for applicants for fall of 2021. Due to the split between test-optional and non-test optional colleges, many students are still unsure of whether they should or if they can take the SAT or ACT in order to fulfill the testing requirements for certain schools.

As Maryland progresses into phase two of the COVID-19 recovery plan, MCPS has come up with multiple possible plans and scenarios that will allow students to return to school in the fall while still maintaining social distancing requirements. Possibilities include evening classes, earlier start to school days, and rotation schedules to switch between online and in person schooling. Students await for definite answers as August approaches. Questions also remain as to how the grade book will look like if online learning continues, such as whether the Pass/Incomplete system will continue or will MCPS transition back to the traditional letter grading.