Some Wake County parents wrestle with keeping children home from school as COVID-19 cases surge

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Camille Kauer and her husband have a daughter who goes to West Cary Middle School.

They are keeping Vanessa home from school this week, as Omicron-fueled COVID-19 cases skyrocket after the holiday break.

"Not even two months ago, she had her first asthma attack at school, and we discovered she had asthma," Kauer said. "So things have changed. So just because of her being at a higher risk, we just didn't want to take any chances."

It's a decision other parents are also wrestling with.

Sarah Wilson's son, Liam, is in second grade at Herbert Akins Road Elementary in Fuquay-Varina. He has been enrolled in virtual learning and was supposed to return to in-person instruction Monday. But Wilson said the high number of COVID cases concerned her and her husband and they were able to keep him in remote learning.

Wilson said her son has asthma and has been hospitalized in the past because of colds.

"I didn't sleep last week because I was trying to make this decision," Wilson said. "I'm like, 'do I keep him in person? Do I switch him back to virtual?' I mean, I went for safety of my family, but I feel like we're losing a lot. Like I am not happy that he is not in person right now."

The decision was not easy for Wilson.

"I really want my son to be in school," Wilson said. "He needs school. He has a speech IEP. He is a boy that I feel like needs structure. And he also has a younger sibling that's not vaccinated. And I felt like I had to make a choice between my family's health, especially my younger child who's not vaccinated and there's still the possibility that my older son wouldn't do well, even though he's vaccinated."

Wake County Public School System Superintendent Cathy Moore told ABC11's Josh Chapin on Tuesday night that there are no plans for the district to move to more virtual learning, mostly because of staffing.

"There is not capacity to add students to Virtual Academy at this point, and I think that we would not be in a position to open it back up," Moore said.

Kauer would like the option of enrolling her daughter back in virtual learning. But for at least this week, she's keeping her at home.

"She's definitely going to be paying for it with her grades, I'm sure, as far as trying to catch back up, which is unfortunate, but at least she'll be home safe," Kauer said.

For parents who are deciding to keep their children home right now, the district said they should talk to their child's principal to determine the next steps.
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