Delta variant, return to classroom an unhealthy mix, some parents say

Posted July 30, 2021 10:48 a.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2021 7:59 p.m. EDT

— Five students at the Franklin Academy charter school in Wake Forest have tested positive for coronavirus in the past week, putting more than 200 others in quarantine.

Across Wake County, at least eight students at Turner Creek Road Elementary School in Cary have been infected, forcing dozens of others in quarantine.

Parents are starting to demand that school officials make some adjustments before even more students return to class next month.

North Carolina has reported more than 3,100 coronavirus infections statewide both Thursday and Friday, the first time that's happened in more than five months. Health officials say the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus is fueling the rapid increase in cases.

"As a parent, it scares me," the mother of a Franklin Academy fourth-grader told WRAL News on Friday. "Some parents don't believe in COVID."

She didn't want to be identified because she fears backlash from both school officials and parents. But she said she's too concerned to stay silent.

"There's no social distancing whatsoever. There's 25 kids to a class," she said.

Franklin Academy operates an elementary school, a middle school and a high school at three different locations in Wake Forest, and it's unclear if the infections and quarantines are limited to one campus or spread across multiple locations.

The woman said her son now has symptoms of COVID-19, and she worries that the school's lenient mask policy may have led to him getting sick.

"If you want to wear the mask, then wear the mask. If you don't want the mask, then just fill out this form, and you're basically have a 'get out of jail free' card," she said.

Franklin Academy administrators haven't responded to requests for comment that WRAL News submitted on Tuesday and Thursday. But in messages sent to parents, officials said students will be required to wear masks or show proof of vaccination, starting next week. A doctor's note will be required for any exceptions to that policy.

Meanwhile, the mother of a Turner Creek Road Elementary student said those in quarantine there are once again struggling with remote learning, being given only about an hour's worth of schoolwork each day.

"They’re healthy, but they’re absolutely bored," she said. "I understand that they don’t have a teaching staff to support it, but we are kind of left to our own devices."

Wake County Public School System officials said they don't keep track of the number of quarantined students in the district.

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