Dulaney Rises to COVID Challenges

Erin Patterson, Staff Writer

When are we going back to school in person? When will the virtual classes resume after the ransomware attack? When will COVID distancing end? We have all had these questions at some point this year. Through this unprecedented time, Principal Samuel Wynkoop has led over 1,800 students and 100 staff members into another school year while doing everything for the first time.

Wynkoop said, “I’ve been doing this for 22 years and without a doubt it was the most challenging 365 days of my career.”

Not only were there issues with returning to school but also other unexpected difficulties. The first school day of the pandemic, March 16th, 2021, was just the first stop on the timeline of struggles.

“We were all kind of confused as to what was going on in the world and how we were going to kind of be able to keep teaching and learning going well with being virtual,” Wynkoop added.

Despite the world’s uncertainty, school had to continue. Giving teachers adequate tools and training to persevere proved to be another struggle for Wynkoop and the Dulaney administration.

Reflecting on the end of the 2019-2020 school year, emotions were high and raw as the Class of 2020 went without a prom or in-person graduation. Not being in person but still needing to be there for support and working with them as they said goodbye was tough for Wynkoop.

As the summer of 2020 approached, the administration focused on planning for fall, gathering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and distributing schedules for students to be prepared for the fall.

The next biggest hurdle was the ransomware attack in late November 2020. The attack led everyone with a Dulaney-issued computer to need device reimaging. Students had to come to school every half hour for a fix. The attack also shut down all mass communication resources. Any robocalls or email distribution lists were unavailable for use. Information had been extremely hard to share between students and parents. Details about the return to school were unavailable from Thanksgiving all the way until the new year.

Recently, students have returned to the building for hybrid learning. encountered new problems with Wi-Fi and internet usage.

Though they occurred before the ransomware attack and pandemic, they certainly have become more prominent this year.
In Wynkoop’s eyes, given the time and resource constraints, the return to in-person learning has been as good as it could have been.
He didn’t want Dulaney teachers to be bogged down on just passing through the curriculum, but to instead focus on connecting with students. He always told them some form of “just breathe.” He wanted to be the one responsible for handling the logistical information from the county. This included the timeline for returning and any messages from the county. The teachers were able to just focus on teaching.

Wynkoop said, “It really is a testament to the adults in the building because there are so many people that said ‘Hey Mr. Wynkoop, what do you need?’ Everybody pitching in makes light work.”

Although this had been an extremely tough year, none of the students, teachers, or staff will ever forget it. The next upcoming hurdle to overcome is to determine how Fall 2021 will look following the district’s decision. Wynkoop reminds us that “we really are in the same boat and I think that I am proud of our staff and our community that for the most part we’ve all been paddling.”