School Options for Parents
Posted June 29, 2020 11:05 a.m. EDT
Despite soaring coronavirus cases, North Carolina students are expected to return to the classroom in the first week of August. With plenty of questions about how they’ll reopen, how students will social distance and how outbreaks will be handled, many parents may not fee safe sending their children back to school.
"Right now, I’m not sending them," says Jacklyn Faiola, the mother of a Wake County elementary student, as well as a middle schooler. For parents like Faiola, what are the options as we approach the first day of school?
The first option is go along with the your local school system’s reopening plan. That’ll likely include staggered days or weeks where students will attend classes virtually when they’re not in the school building. School systems are supposed to submit formal reopening plans in the next couple of days. Faiola
A third choice in the North Carolina Virtual Academy, an online only charter school. "In a time of crisis, we want to help all students and all families," explains Lauren Acome, head of the virtual school. It’s tuition free and enrollment is already open. Students can receive a loaner computer, printer and receive an internet stipend. The one fall back- the school is capped- so if you apply, you may not get in. There’s currently a push by parents to temporarily lift or expand the cap because of the pandemic. Acome says the virtual academy is the closest thing to actually attending a school, "Our students attend live classes every single day. They are in school for six hours and they interact with their teacher and they see their classmates."
When schools were forced to close early this year, many parents got a crash course in homeschooling, by no choice of their own. That’s the fourth option for parents, just doing it with much more structure.
"We do have stories of a lot of people reaching out," says Matthew McDill, head of North Carolinians for Home Education. The group promotes educational freedom, but also provides support to homeschooling parents. He says parents shouldn’t be scared of the idea because the system offers so many resources, many of the free. "The first thing you have to get over is realize I don’t have to make everything happen, explains McDill. He feels the virus could be the tipping point for parents who already had concerns about public schools, "You know what, if you’re tipping and you know, I have concerns then I would encourage people to just get right over that hump of worrying that you may not be able to do it."
McDill’s group is holding a conference in the first part of August. He encourages parents who are thinking about homeschooling to come check it out and see how homeschooling works. McDill feels homeschooling is a good option for parents, even if it’s just for the Fall. Children could re-enroll in the Spring if the virus is in check. Faiola likes that idea, "But I’m not gonna keep them out for the whole year! Just until things like settle down I think."
Parents can register their home school through the North Carolina Department of Administration starting in July.