Some Wake County families face tough decision to return children to classrooms, continue with virtual school

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wednesday is the deadline for Wake County middle and high school students to register, or change their registration, for Virtual Academy for next semester.

Like most Wake County high school students, Raven Heyward takes classes on her computer.

“Our school’s been doing a pretty good job to keep the students engaged,” she said.

Although she misses learning in-person, she registered for WCPSS Virtual Academy for next semester.

“Seeing how the numbers are still rising and we’re still in the unknown, I thought that it would probably be safer,” she explained.

The decision was easy for some families, but tougher for others — especially two months before the second semester starts. Middle and high school students haven’t been back in the buildings for in-person learning since the pandemic started. They don’t know what the experience is like.

“We struggled with the deadline. Obviously, we want to give parents more time rather than less time,” said WCPSS Communications Director Lisa Luten. “We had to move the deadline for middle school and high school students up so that we had enough time to prepare their schedules. Middle and high school schedules are much more complicated than elementary student schedules.”

Although the deadline for middle and high school students to register or change virtual academy registration is Nov. 4 at 11:59 pm, elementary students have until next month to make a decision. The registration window will open for K-5 students on Dec. 2-9.

Students who want to attend Virtual Academy in the spring semester, but have not yet registered, must register. This is also a chance for students who registered for a full year of Virtual Academy, who want to change and return to in-person learning in the spring, to cancel their VA registration.

“There are going to be discussions later on this month with our school board about which of the plans we are going to start with,” Luten said. “Parents need to understand that when they opt for plan A, B, or C, it is any one of those options, and we’ve seen this year it could switch throughout the semester.”

While it’s not the school year she expected, 11th grader Raven Heyward is glad to have options.

“Some of my peers are ready and eager to be able to get back to the classroom,” she said. “Some of my peers, like myself, are still on the edge.”

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