‘This is so much harder’ – Wake County parent frustrated by lack of instruction while daughter was quarantining

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – The Wake County School District is not tracking the total number of students who get sent home due to COVID-19 exposures. Once a student is in quarantine, individual classrooms determine how they learn at home.

The Wake County Public School System has seen more than 200 COVID-19 cases in August alone, but the district could not provide a number for how many more students have been sent home for being close contacts.

District spokesperson Lisa Luten said that is because they leave all quarantine management to individual schools.

“Quarantines are managed at the school level,” Luten said in an email. “That data is being used to make decisions for each school campus. It just isn’t coordinated at the district level.”

That’s the same for how children learn when sent home for anywhere between seven to 14 days, depending on each case.

For parent Jenna Ochsenhirt, just days after in-person learning started, her second-grader was exposed to COVID-19, leading to a week-long home quarantine and negative covid test.

“I don’t know if it happened in before-school care. I don’t know if it happened at lunch. I don’t know when and where my daughter was exposed to COVID,” Ochsenhirt said.

When her daughter came home, she wondered how she would keep up with class.

“It’s not like I picked up my daughter and received a package of what to do,” Ochsenhirt said.

Days into quarantine, they received books and a few worksheets, but no live online instruction until a call with her teacher on the last day.

“As hard as virtual school was last year, having this is so much harder. This is a lot less,” Ochsenhirt said. “I definitely feel like the teacher cared and the teacher was doing everything she possibly could.”

District officials said there is no standard quarantine curriculum and at-home work depends on the teacher.

Ochsenhirt said she wants to see the district have a more uniform curriculum ready to go for families when students get sent home.

“If the district is telling children they can’t come to school because of an exposure, the district needs to have a plan in place to provide continuing education,” Ochsenhirt said.

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