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Parents search for virtual learning options as Delta variant spreads

As COVID-19 spreads, some parents in Hampton Roads are considering virtual learning options for their kids. But the deadlines to sign up have come and gone.

NORFOLK, Va. — Parents across Hampton Roads wanting a virtual learning option for their kids this fall are being told to be patient. While virtual options do exist, the deadlines to sign-up have come and gone. 

One Virginia Beach parent, who asked not to be identified told 13News Now, "There has been no option that is truly beneficial to my son, in particular. He's very young. He's special needs and we do have members of our household who are at high risk of COVID right now."

Most districts are relying on Virtual Virginia, an online option that partners with Virginia's Department of Education and serves every public school division in the state. It offers numerous courses for K-12 taught by Virginia-certified teachers. In a normal semester, the service teaches a thousand full-time students. Seven thousand are signed up for the fall and there's a waiting list. The deadline was July 15th, right before the Delta variant spun out of control. 

"We've always allowed medical, military and transfer students after the deadlines but first, definitely contact the local schools to make sure their policies are in place because local school divisions may have deadlines," said Virtual Virginia Executive Director, Brian Mott.

In Hampton, parents looking for a virtual option, are being told to fill out a Parent/Guardian HCS Virtual Learning Agreement and submitting it to their child's school.

According to the schools' spokeswoman, Kellie Goral, the form does not guarantee enrollment into Virtual Virginia. In an email, she states, "...it will place the student on a waiting list. The division monitors Virtual Virginia's waiting list each day and enrolls students as slots become available."

It's the same story in Virginia Beach, the largest school division in Hampton Roads.

Some divisions, including Newport News, Chesapeake and Williamsburg/JCC offer additional virtual learning academies, but the deadlines to sign up have expired. 

Newport News Public Schools' spokeswoman Michelle Price confirmed that parents are inquiring about virtual possibilities and are told that for now, there are no options available. She did not rule out the possibility that slots may come open later. 

In Portsmouth, the division took into account the possibility of having to return to online instruction, so it left the virtual infrastructure in place. But right now, the only option is Virtual Virginia, which is full.

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