ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - This week state leaders said they would announce a plan for reopening schools in North Carolina, but many parents say even if the schools are opened, they would be hesitant to send their children back into a classroom as long as we were still in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rowan-Salisbury School System has come up with an alternative with the creation of the K-8 Virtual Academy.
As this school year ended, much of the instruction was being done online, and now as they prepare for another school year, Rowan-Salisbury Schools will offer the Virtual Academy with a hub set up at Horizons Unlimited in Salisbury.
“That will provide virtual instruction for our students that choose to do their learning in that way,” said Assistant Superintendent Kelly WIthers.
A survey found that more than 20% of respondents wanted the option on online learning as opposed to sending children back into a classroom.
“During the COVID pandemic, the main benefit is that families have an option to keep their students at home if they feel like that is the best option for their family, whether it be health related, whether it be that they take care of someone else that they protect, they have that option,” Withers added.
At Gary’s BBQ, a popular spot in China Grove, there were mixed reactions from student’s family members about the virtual academy.
“I’m not a fan,” said parent Carrie Deal. “My boys need to be in school and with two working parents outside the home it would be very difficult to make that happen with them learning and doing their work without us home.”
A grandmother, Carol Miller, liked the virtual learning idea better than sending her granddaughter back to school.
“We’re concerned about her going and being with all the kids and everything,” Miller said. “We’re worried about it because it seems like it’s (COVID-19) getting more and more prevalent every day, more and more people coming down with it.”
School leaders say they understand both sides, and that it’s being offered as an option.
“And it will continue to be an option, it’s not an option just during COVID, it is an ongoing option. We’re going to establish the K-8 virtual school as an option for students who choose that as the way they want to learn,” Withers added.
The system already has an online learning academy for grades 9-12 based at East Rowan High School.