As pandemic-plagued schoolyear finishes up, Wake County families look toward fall

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With an unusual school year wrapping up, some families are looking toward fall.

Last year, in the fall of 2020, nearly half of Wake County Public School students chose the virtual academy. This year, many more children will head back to the buildings.

Charlie Galuten loves to show off all he’s learned in kindergarten. He said his favorite subjects include math, social studies, science, reading, and writing.

“Academically, we are very fortunate,” said his mother, Jill. “He’s done very well, but those other things that you learn in kindergarten he didn’t get.”

After a year of virtual learning, Galuten has nothing but praise for Charlie’s teachers.

“We have felt really supported despite not being in the classroom,” she said. “What I think was more important for Charlie, and I wanted him to have, was the socialization.”

They’re excited Charlie will attend school in-person in first grade.

Their friends, the Thompsons, will remain in WCPSS Virtual Academy. According to the district, about 14,000 students are registered for the virtual academy for the 2021-2022 school year. That’s fewer than 10 percent.

“We did our best to adapt to the virtual setting,” said Edward Thompson, a rising high school junior.

Although he admitted it can be hard to stay motivated online, he did some pretty cool projects. He and his brother will remain virtual for health reasons.

“It is sad that the kids haven’t really had in-person, face-to-face things with their teachers or their classmates,” said his mom, Sarah. “But they’re healthy and they’re alive, and that’s really what matters.”

While the Galutens are excited for Charlie to go to school in the building, his mom hopes COVID-19 precautions will remain in place next year. Charlie recently finished treatment for leukemia.

“I hope they make smart choices for everyone,” said Galuten.”But especially taking into account our most vulnerable population, which is my son.”

The deadline to register for virtual academy has passed. This year, the district is asking for a year-long commitment from virtual academy students.

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