Parents nervous about growing COVID cases want to switch to virtual, few options left so close to school

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 7:04 PM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) -South Carolina’s top epidemiologist is sounding the alarm tonight.

She says widespread COVID outbreaks in schools are quoted inevitably without widespread masking.

Already 68 students and 17 teachers, a total of 85, in the few school districts already back in the classrooms have tested positive for COVID.

Thousands of South Carolina students are getting ready to head back to in-person learning - despite COVID cases still trending up.

South Carolina is one of seven states in the country that have issued a ban on mask and vaccine mandates.

It has left some parents feeling vulnerable about their kids going back to a classroom where masks will not be enforced.

This has some parents questioning whether they should make the jump back to virtual learning.

In our two biggest districts, Fort Mill and Rock Hill Schools, parents have asked more about virtual learning since talks of the Delta variant and what schools will look like became top of mind.

Both districts are offering a virtual academy this year for parents who don’t want to send their students to school. Both districts will also have teachers teaching virtual-only classes this school year.

In Fort Mill, however, the open enrollment for virtual learning is closed and a spokesperson says it won’t open back up. They are only accepting some students on a very small case-by-case basis.

In Rock Hill, open enrollment was just extended because of the uncertainty of COVID.

A spokesperson says the district will continue offering it after every quarter for parents nervous about rising cases.

One worried mom says she is been weighing her options.

”I’m so upset the numbers are rising because it’s so bad for the kids. And I don’t want them to get exposed because we don’t know what’s gonna happen,” says Suzann Schrader.

She is scared, very nervous for both her first and sixth-grader as they try to navigate the unknown.

She wants to do virtual or even try at homeschooling but neither of those roads have been easy.

”I’m very nervous. I’m anxious. I’ve been overwhelmed,” she explains.

It is almost every emotion in the book for mom Suzann Schrader as she prepares her kids for in-person learning. One who has not stepped foot in a classroom since pre-K.

“First grader I’m not so sure what’s going to happen with the whole mask thing,” says Schrader.

It is not the end of her worries either. Schrader says she is nervous about safety protocols—no desk shields, students three feet apart and no mask requirement. Recently, she learned of a big blow to the first day of school ritual parents cherish.

”I can’t walk her in on her first day in first grade and it’s the first time she’s gonna be in a building period, so we were both crying over that,” she says.

So for now she is carefully weighing her options. She is thinking of homeschooling or a different k12 virtual program. At first, she did not think Rock Hill’s virtual academy was available until the date was extended to August 20th.

”We realized just as the pandemic there are a lot of unknowns right now,” says Lindsay Machack, spokesperson for RHS.

She is thinking about it for her middle schooler but wants her first graders to go a different route. Even with the extension, trying to figure out what’s best in the unknown is not an easy - or expected - a task for Schrader.

”It’s very nerve-wracking and there’s a lot of anxious tears and it’s just not fun,” she says.

She is holding out hope but a teacher meeting Thursday night could be the breaking point.

”I have a feeling tomorrow is going to lead to a big conversation on what’s going to happen if we are really going to school,” she explains.

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