Parents frustrated by school’s response to COVID-19 cases

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 7:37 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - COVID-19 cases are keeping nearly 50 students out of Penderlea School. Nine students have tested positive for the virus and 42 are in quarantine due to exposure.

Parents are concerned and frustrated.

“Well, when I walked into the school, I noticed that the six-feet symbols are not on the ground anymore. So I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ No more temperature checks, just hop out the car now, it’s like a normal day,” said Penderlea school parent Etoya Baldwin.

But, it’s not a normal school day at Penderlea.

Baldwin has six kids in different grades at the school, which includes both elementary and middle school. She got a call on Tuesday after one of her kids was exposed to another student with symptoms of COVID-19. She immediately went to pick her kids up from the school, and three of them later tested positive.

Unlike last year, there’s no virtual option, so now she’s frustrated because the school has been silent when it comes to schoolwork.

“I was told that they were going to give me a call. It’s been three days now — that’s three days now. I still haven’t received a call yet for any work packets or Chromebooks, I haven’t received any Chromebooks as well,” said Baldwin.

Pender County Schools officials said there are enough Chromebooks for each student, but some parents say that even if they have a Chromebook, they don’t have internet access to use it.

As of now there is no virtual learning plan for the county, but if it’s necessary they will talk about it later on down the road.

Other parents commented on the lack of communication from the school, because the entire school, or even entire class, hasn’t been notified of these cases and exposures, only families that have been directly impacted.

Officials said it’s not something as simple as making a phone call.

“We haven’t taken it with a couple of cases to inform the entire school. We understand that parents want to be informed but there are HIPAA rules in place that prevent us from disclosing certain things,” said Pender County Schools Communications Coordinator Alex Riley.

And one of the most alarming things — these cases all occurred when masks were mandatory, but starting Monday they are optional for Pender County Schools.

Now, parents like Baldwin are left to do what they can to protect their kids.

“Being they can’t get vaccinated, they are definitely wearing masks,” said Baldwin.

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