Wake County parents seeking alternative with Virtual Academy registration closed

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- We're less than two weeks from the start of the new school year and some parents are having a change of heart; they no longer feel confident about sending their children into the classroom as COVID cases surge -- especially with the looming threat of the delta variants spread.

The latest data from the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services show there are 17 ongoing COVID clusters -- five or more cases -- in K-12 schools statewide, six of them are in Wake County Public Schools.

"Why are we putting our children at risk? They don't have a vaccine," said Melissa Harrison, whose rising 5th grader is set to begin the school year attending class at Holly Ridge Elementary School.

Harrison, a nurse in a long-term care facility who contracted COVID last winter, is now desperate to keep her 10-year-old at home where she feels she would be safer amid COVID's resurgence.

When Harrison contacted her daughter's school to request a transfer into Wake County's Virtual Academy, she was told registration was closed.

Right now, about 10,700 students are registered in the Virtual Academy.
Michael Yarbrough, WCPSS spokesperson sent the following statement to ABC11:

"It is too late to elect the Virtual Academy, and here is why: While the Virtual Academy has no physical address, it is organized in the same way as a brick-and-mortar school. Students are assigned to classes. Teachers are assigned students. It is not possible to let hundreds of students come and go from a physical school each week without creating chaos. The same is true of the Virtual Academy.

Parents are asked to adhere to the health guidelines at their student's school. We have multiple supports in place in our schools to ensure that students attending school in person will have a safe and positive learning experience. In the event that a student attending school in person would have to quarantine due to exposure to COVID, provisions will be made to ensure that the student's learning continues. In these situations, it will not be possible to accommodate a transfer into Virtual Academy."


Harrison said she knows children are less likely to get severely ill from COVID-19, but she said the virus affects everyone differently.

"If my child goes to school and she gets sick -- God forbid she ends up in the hospital -- what is Wake County Public Schools gonna say to the parents that they forced to send their children to school?" she said.
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