Virtual learning or in-person? Parents make tough decisions

Back To School

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – As Johnson City Schools prepare to return to in-person learning on Wednesday, some parents are choosing different options instead.

Elizabeth Ortiz, a Johnson City parent, said she doesn’t want to send her 6-year-old, Ava, to school while the Delta variant is rising, vaccinations are not an option for younger children and masks are optional.

“The older two, they have a virtual option which I really appreciated, so they will be doing that. My youngest, there is no virtual option,” Ortiz said. “Unfortunately, I had to un-enroll her and put her in homeschool.”

Johnson City Virtual Academy Principal George Laoo said the virtual academy is currently only offered to fifth through 12th grade.

Ortiz said she thinks virtual learning should be an option through the local school system for younger children.

“We’re not trying to exclude them, but it’s just at this point we felt comfortable starting with 5th grade,” Laoo said. “We will reevaluate once the demand for those lower grades come.”

Laoo said 125 students are enrolled for this school year so far, and he’s seen increased demand in recent weeks.

“The majority of the students that are enrolling this week are ones that have come to the conclusion that it’s a better option for them because of the Delta variant that’s on the rise,” Laoo said.

The deadline for Johnson City Virtual Academy enrollment is Friday by 4 p.m.

“It is a tough decision for parents who want to do what is best for their students or child,” Laoo said.

“I just worry about their future,” Ortiz said. “The long-term effects of them maybe getting it, so it really just weighs heavy every day.”

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