Originals Online: Some Parents Want Virtual School Options For 2021-2022 As COVID-19 Cases Rise

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) – Some local parents are asking school boards to reconsider offering a virtual schooling option for the 2021-2022 school year.

This demand comes as cases of COVID-19 increase in K-12 schools. The state’s Department of Health and Human Services reported that more than 9,600 children tested positive for COVID-19 in the week of August 22 alone. It was officially the first week back to school for many districts.

Greene County offered a virtual option before the start of the school year. Applications for this were closed about a week before the start of classes. In Greene County, approximately 80 students have registered for virtual learning. Greene County Schools Superintendent Patrick Miller told 9OYS that option is now closed and will not become available. Miller said it’s because the county is contracting out for his virtual learning.

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Bertie County parent and nurse Latoya Thompson has created an online petition, asking the school board to change its mind.

For children who have underlying health issues or who may have someone at home, this would give them a better chance of controlling the disease in their home. I understand that some parents don’t want this option which is why I say it is optional for parents. Those who want to send theirs, let them send them, those who think that it is beneficial for their family to keep their children at home, that they keep their children at home.

Latoya Thompson, Parent and Bertie County Nurse

Thompson said it can also be difficult for children to understand why they need to wear a mask and social distancing, they are physical beings who learn through touch and sensation. It does not surprise her therefore by the number of cases that there are already in schools.

Other parents don’t feel the same way. We reached out to the community on social media and responses were shared. Some parents believe that the option should be offered to those who want it, others do not believe that it should be offered at all.

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Some against the virtual option say the situation is not as drastic as it is claimed. Others note that children may not get as sick as adults from COVID. Another argument is that children have been out of school for too long, they need this in-person instruction to be successful. And others simply cannot afford the extra costs it would take for their children to learn virtually at home.

9OYS also spoke with Katherine Beavers of Greenville Pediatrics to hear what they are seeing regarding cases of COVID in children. The numbers they see are staggering.

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“It started happening about three weeks ago, almost instantly,” she said. “We see twice as many children, around 120 a day now in our sick room.”

Beavers also said they had to close their largest office to only accommodate sick and COVID-positive children. She said it created a backlog of appointments for things like regular checkups and required medicals.

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Beavers had to ask the Pitt County School Board to contact the state and request an extension. She says they “can’t physically fit all these children into our other two offices, because we see all these sick children.”

9OYS has contacted schools in Bertie County for their response to requests for virtual learning options, but has not received a response.

Perry A. Thomasson