‘I’m losing hope at this point’: Some parents frustrated as Guilford County Schools delays middle school in-person learning

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Some parents are frustrated after Guilford County Schools announced a delay for middle school in-person learning.

“I was hopeful, I was hopeful but I’m losing hope at this point,” parent Debbie Gill said.

Her child attends Southeast Guilford Middle School. She said he was disappointed to learn he will continue learning in the families makeshift classroom at home for several more weeks.

“He hasn’t really talked about it since last night, he’s pretty much withdrawn right now,” she said.

Elementary school students will return for in-person learning as planned on Tue., Jan. 5. The first group of sixth graders was originally scheduled to return on Jan. 7. Instead, those students will start on Jan. 21. Middle school students originally scheduled to return for in-person learning on Jan. 11 will now return on Jan 25. Middle schoolers will continue with online learning until then.

School Board Member Deborah Napper has been monitoring the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. She says the delay will help reduce the spread of the virus after the holidays.

“There are known cases, but they have stayed at a very low number,” she said. “Sending back children in those same age ranges should, knock on wood, keep us at that stable level.”

LaCindra Pfifer is relieved her first grader will remain in the classroom. More than 300 people have signed a petition calling for the district to remain virtual until health metrics improve. Pfifer says that would set her child back further.

“I was thinking up next will be the elementary kids as well,” she said. “It was too hard, some families can do it, it just wasn’t working for my family.”

Parents of middle and high school students may choose either in-person or remote learning for their kids. Some families are frustrated that there are several options for those who want to stay online, but those requesting in-person have limited choices.

“The only thing I can say from a board of education perspective is there is just not a perfect answer. There is not a perfect way to keep everyone perfectly safe and perfectly educated at the same time with this,” Napper said.

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