COVID-19: J.Hop closes campus for the school year, transitions to online learning

The coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, is a respiratory illness that started in Wuhan, China. The exact origin is unknown.

Dr. Li Wenliang, age 34, was one of the first officials to warn about the outbreak. He was silenced by the police and died early this year after contracting the virus. The police and others questioned Dr. Li in early January after he warned a circle of medical school classmates on December 30th that a new virus appeared like SARS. The police compelled him to sign a statement denouncing his warning as an unfounded and illegal rumor.

As of now there is no cure for the coronavirus, and there is no specific medicine to treat the virus. According to the CDE, “treatment consists of supportive core to help relieve symptoms and, for severe cases, care to support vital organ functions.” Basically, doctors can help your body continue to function in hopes it will fight off the virus.

The coronavirus spreads by person-to-person contact. It spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, often between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).

Before Pinellas County Schools were closed for the remainder of the school year, John Hopkins Middle School took many precautions to help staff and students stay healthy.

“I have consulted with our plant operation staff to make sure that common areas, like the stair way railings, and the second-floor railing as well as door handles, that those things are sanitized,” said Mr. Sharp, our head plant operator.

“Mr. Sharp informed us that he is using the strongest cleaning supplies that we have”, says Mr. Jones, principal of John Hopkins Middle School. The school is being sanitized every night.

J.Hop school personnel pose in their masks Now everyone is encouraged to stay at home and only go out for critical trips. When they do go out, everyone is encouraged to stay six feet apart and wear masks. All non-essential businesses have closed, and U.S. unemployment claims are up to 30 million according to recent numbers.

Students have transitioned to distance learning. Classes meet once a week online where scholars can chat or video conference with their teachers.

J.Hop school personnel helped coordinate a technology loan for students and families in the parent traffic circle. Pinellas County Schools transitioned to online learning just one week after spring break, but there are many obstacles to overcome.

One obstacle is the difference between learning in a classroom setting and learning from a screen at home. The recorded lessons and chats have been a difficult adjustment for some scholars. “Most humans work better getting taught something in person, instead of just getting told that you have to do something,” seventh grader Antonio Ford says.

Seventh grader Shawnteze King appreciates the solitude. “I feel great about starting online school away from the things that distract you in school. I think working by yourself lets you work harder.”

Eighth grader Skylar Harris agrees. “My opinion about online school is that it’s comfortable for me, because I like to do whatever I want to do, whenever I like to do it. This means now with online school I can eat, without having to hide it from my peers and the teachers asking for some.”

There are still a lot of questions that have yet to be answered. Will semester four grades factor into students advancing grade levels? Will eighth graders get any graduation ceremony? Will school reopen next August? Pinellas County Schools releases new information each week. For the most recent information, visit