Kingsport City Schools parents start petition demanding virtual learning option

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Some Kingsport City Schools parents are demanding the district give them an opt-out, but not out of mask usage. They want the district to give them the ability to pull their kids out of in-school learning in favor of virtual learning.

Last year, parents had the option to send their children to virtual learning. Students this year can learn virtually only when quarantined, but that is only through Canvas and hand-outs. The fully virtual option is not available.

Now, a petition on Change.org is calling on the district to make fully virtual an option again. The petition said a virtual option would provide a safer environment at school and give peace of mind to families with students and individuals at risk of severe symptoms of COVID-19.

The petition asks that virtual learning also be conducted by Kingsport teachers, not a third party.

Lacey Robinson has two students in Kingsport Schools, a first-grader at Andrew Johnson Elementary School and a sophomore at Dobyns-Bennett High School. Her first-grader is immunocompromised.

Both were enrolled in virtual classes last year, but without that option this year, both are back in school. Robinson said it helped her family.

“It helped alleviate some of the anxiety and stress that our family felt sending her into a situation that was unknown,” Robinson said.

Six days into the school year, her daughter tested positive for COVID-19. She wanted the district to do more to mitigate the spread of the virus, particularly for immunocompromised individuals. That includes giving parents the ability the opt-out their children from in-person school.

“Everyone should be afforded the option,” Robinson said. “We know it’s not the best way of learning, but it is a way of learning.”

She said her daughter’s schoolwork during this year’s quarantine versus last year’s virtual learning was vastly different. The quarantine work was easy while virtual learning was more challenging.

Robinson said she plans to sign the petition. She thought more people could support the measure given the high spread of the Delta variant.

She said the same parent choice extended to parents against masking their children should be given to parents wanting virtual learning for their children.

“There is no parent choice in this,” Robinson said. “We are told this is what you’re getting.”

Kingsport City Schools did not offer comment on the petition.

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