NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Some parents say they weren’t heard by the New Hanover County Board of Education, which voted Tuesday night to move to “Plan C” and re-open virtually for the first nine weeks of school.
In the first survey by New Hanover County Schools earlier this month, most families said they would send their children back to school in-person.
Many parents have expressed that they want the option.
Sabrina Thomson is a single mom who recently moved to the area and is now struggling to find steady employment that would be worth the cost of childcare for her 8-year-old son.
“I get it. I understand COVID. It’s a huge thing. But I think what’s happening...I know there was an option for it; they put out all these plans and it was like, okay, if you want to have at home that was your choice, by all means, that’s great. But for parents...working parents, single parents, you know, all those other anomalies so to speak, I don’t think they were taken into consideration.”
She worries about lower income families being left behind.
“When we think of our kids, they’re our future,” Thomson said. “It’s that cliche saying but, especially through this we need to band together as a community, as a society, as a nation, and say okay really, where is this going to benefit everybody?”
Bob Lockerby feels parent feedback has been totally discounted.
“We have been dismissed and our input has not been heard,” he said. His family is ready for their rising 5th graders to be back in the classroom.
“Now’s the time for parents to step out of the shadows and into the sunlight and express their views,” said Lockerby. “If they’ve been concerned about the cancel culture and the effect it has on their businesses and their friendships...I think we need to get over that.”
WECT caught back up with Stacey Bell, an elementary school teacher who we first talked with back in April.
She says she took a positive attitude and made the most of it with her students, while also helping her teenage daughter who will now be starting high school virtually.
She offers some advice for parents adjusting to another school year starting online.
“I say this to myself as well, that’s trust the teachers...trusting in that they are going to do their best to make it as normal as possible,” she said. “Trusting in your student, trusting in what they already know, and when I say that I don’t just mean academically, you know, our kids...technology-wise are so far [beyond] what we were at that age, so trusting that they are going to get it. They’re going to grasp, and they’re going to learn and we’re going to learn together and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
In recommending the move to Plan C, Interim Superintendent Del Burns said the district just isn’t ready for in-person learning and that the district is laying out processes and procedures for everything from school bus transportation to meal distribution and health screenings.
“We have to look out for our health...and teachers for a long time [who] always put their kids first, their students first. And this is a time when we feel like we have to come first and our health so that we could continue to be the best teachers that we are and be there for our kids,” Bell said. “With virtual, we’re probably working even harder than we do in the classroom.”