BURLINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — Starting next semester, some students in the Alamance/Burlington School System will have virtual teachers.

The Board of Education approved a pilot program called Elevate K-12, which will help fill some of the open positions at Broadview Middle School.

Broadview has the most teacher vacancies in the county. There are 13 open positions there. The goal is to fill those and make up for some of the learning loss that happened because of the pandemic. But not everyone is sure this is the right way to do that.

“Instead of locking down and getting teachers in these schools, it’s like ‘OK, we’ll just put them on a computer screen,” said Torrane Richmond, who has three children at the school

Richmond’s daughter, who’s in eighth grade, has had a substitute teacher since the year started.

“It’s always somebody different or a teacher for a week, and another teacher for another week,” Richmond said. “It’s hard for a student to look in and learn with multiple people.”

The need for teachers is reaching a severe level across the Alamance/Burlington School System. District-wide, there are 50 core subject teacher vacancies. That includes math, science, English and social studies. More than a quarter of those openings are at Broadview Middle School.

To combat the shortage, the school board approved a contract between the district and Elevate K-12 to provide coverage for five of those teacher vacancies.

A certified instructor will appear on a computer screen. There will be a supervisor in-person to help and answer students’ questions. The district will use the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds to pay for the more than $268,000 program.

“Is that the best-case scenario?” said one of the board members at Tuesday night’s meeting. “Absolutely not, but we got to do what we got to do.”

The contract passed seven to zero at the meeting. But board member Patsy Simpson thinks more needs to be done.

“I want a high-quality education for our students,” she said. “If that means pulling high-quality educators from other schools, paying incentives then we need to do that, but it’s totally unacceptable to use these children as an experiment.”

Parents are preparing for the change as the second semester approaches. Some are skeptical of if this will help or hinder.

“I understand they need to provide the academic needs to the students,” one parent said. “At the same time, knowing my son and how he learns, he needs to have a teacher in the classroom.”

Others have concerns this will be no different than schooling during the pandemic.

“I feel like it’s the same thing as virtual learning,” Richmond said.

District leaders will continue recruitment efforts to try to hire permanent in-person teachers at the school.

They’re looking at bringing in high school teachers in the district to teach during their free periods. They also made a recruitment video to attract candidates.