School Supply Drives bring cautious optimism as COVID-19 cases increase

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- As parents and students are looking forward to the opportunity to return to in-person instruction, they're closely monitoring COVID-19 metrics, which continue to worsen over the past month.

Saturday, there were several school supply drives across the Triangle, connecting organizers and businesses with families.


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"What I think helped is that we had the vaccination clinic happening alongside of this, so a lot of parents brought their children here. They came and got their vaccine and after they got that and they came and got their backpacks," said Demarcus Williams, the Associate Pastor and Director of Evangelism and Greater Emmanuel Temple of Grace, who helped oversee one such event in Durham.

Southeast Raleigh Table on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh hosted another gathering.

"Each one of us is a business owner so us getting out as you see here, we have a pop-up shop going on in conjunction with it, so us getting out being able to work our businesses, get our names out there and then also being able to talk to our families, let our children interact with other children, as long as everybody's being safe, I think we can get ahead of this thing. But it's important for us to get out a lot because this is our livelihood," said Shay Love, an organizer with QueensCollectively, which teamed up with PrettyFatGrlGang, and was support by the Kappa Charitable Trust Fund as well as other donors to giveaway bookbags.

"I was that parent. I had five small children when I moved down here, and I didn't have anything. So organizations like this and events like this is what helped me out in those times," added Natasha Wilson, a mother of five who helped organize the event.

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ABC11 spoke with nine mothers at the event, who had children in several districts across the Triangle; all nine supported mask mandates in schools. Wilson is immunosuppressed, and expressed concern over possible transmission.


"With my children going out to school and bringing me back anything just like many other parents, some grandparents, or older parents, they can come home and potentially pass something on to a loved one that they wouldn't survive. So I think while I understand we want to have our freedoms, we want people to live," Wilson explained.
Parents acknowledged academic struggles remote instructed presented last school year, and expressed hope for a more traditional learning environment this year.

"I had five (children) at home home-schooling all at the same time from elementary school to high school. It was definitely a struggle. The younger kids with (shorter) attention spans, with teachers calling saying they'd miss class and I'd be sitting right next to them," said Simona Saunders, a mother of five.

"It was a struggle for me because I have a seven-year-old. And we all know that the smaller children have short attention spans, they're not going to sit in front of a computer that long," added Laqueshia Brown.

The more transmissible Delta variant has led to an increase in cases impacting children, with parents preparing for the possibility of interruptions to the schedule.

"As of right now, they're going back but I think we're going to end up being hybrid again at some point," Love said.
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