Pender County parents concerned schools won’t offer virtual learning


PENDER COUNTY (WWAY) — In Pender County, parents of elementary school students who relied on virtual learning will not have that option for fall 2021, and are having to make other arrangements.

“I’m not proud to say I was furious, but I was,” said parent of two, Mandy Ware. “It was as if someone had pulled out the rug from underneath us.”

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When masks went from mandatory to optional, Sashi Karri said she attempted to enroll her seven-year-old in virtual learning. She learned through Facebook elementary schoolers would not have that opportunity this year.

“We all are vaccinated at our house,” said Karri. “Our kid is the only one who is not vaccinated. And now, since the pandemic has been increasing, the cases are increasing like crazy, we want her to be safe.”

The pandemic has given Karri few options. Now, without virtual learning, the pregnant mother has even fewer.

“I’m left with only option, which is homeschooling. That’s it.”

Alex Riley, Pender County School’s spokesman said the Pender County Board of Education made their elementary school decision after overwhelming responses from a parent survey.

“We sent out a survey during the summer to see what the level of interest was,” Riley said. “The response was not very high at the time. In discussions with the board, we felt it was something we didn’t need to put into place at that time.”

Riley said a virtual program for middle and high school was already in place after years of development at the beginning of the pandemic. But with rising delta variant cases dominating COVID wards, Ware said the least the school system can do is give all parents the ability to choose.

“If we’re going to allow the option to mask our children, which as a parent, I would support the choice to take care of your child in the best way you see fit,” said Ward. “Then we should also offer an option for other parents to take care of their children the best way that they see fit, by offering a remote option.”

According to Riley, parents with concerns should email the Pender County School Board, who might discuss them in more details at next week’s meeting.

As of now, New Hanover county is also only offering virtual learning to middle and high school.