Thousands of CMS parents sign letter to governor asking for choice to send kids to in-person learning

N.C. parents calling on state to allow in-person learning

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Thousands of North Carolina parents are waiting on a response from Governor Cooper after they signed a letter, asking him to reinstate in-person learning.

Four groups representing four major school districts in North Carolina, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, came together to write the letter. Thousands of parents are represented.

Part of the letter reads “NC educators and NC families have been increasingly concerned with the significant class failure rates, decreased class attendance rates, and emotional/mental health of our children who have become isolated, are not participating in sports, and are not receiving a solid education that will prepare them for college and the remainder of their life.”

Right now, local schools board make the ultimate decision on if schools are in-person or virtual. This letter is asking that the governor make school board give parents back their choice instead of mandating all-virtual school.

Even with this letter, the governor does not have the authority to require in-person instruction, a CMS source confirmed.

Many parents agreed to sign this letter because they can see their kids are struggling with remote learning and their nervous of the long term effects.

That’s the case for the Stephens family.

“Very soon after Zoom meetings he begins to zone out and that can take multiple avenues and one is he can meltdown,” said Glen Stephens.

Glen’s son John has an IEP that says in-person school is a necessity for his learning.

“The school is obligated to have John in person learning in front of a teacher which was fine right up until December when they closed down schools completely.”

Stephens is an administrator for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Community for In Person Learning Options. They’re asking for executive action to make school districts give parents the choice of in-person learning.

“There are families for whom remote learning is doing wonders and we got those testimonials,” he said, understanding some families need the virtual option just as much as his family needs the in-person option. “There are still a large population which is not being served through remote learning and the school system has an obligation to meet those needs.”

CMS is all virtual until at least middle of February after an emergency board meeting was called to discuss Mecklenburg County Public Health recommendations that schools consider virtual options.

The board voted 8-1 to go fully remote until at least the middle of February.

But many of these parents say even with that recommendation, they feel comfortable sending their kids to school.

“As long as John’s mother and myself are taking precautions we need to take outside the school, John going to the school, John coming back from the school. The data seems to show that spread is very limited,” said Stephens.

But the latest CDC guidance says differently. One metric the CDC uses is how many positive tests are there of everyone who’s being tested. The CDC says if the percent-positive rate is above 10%, there is a high risk of transmission in schools. The latest Mecklenburg County data is 12.4 percent positive.

Stephens says he hopes CMS can find a compromise that can send students and teachers back to school who want to be in person and feel safe. But still keep the virtual option for people who need that option.

Both CMS and the governor have not responded to our request for comment.

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