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'Our moral imperative' | Elizabeth City Schools vote to expand virtual learning eligibility

When school started last week, only students at high risk of infection or those who live with someone at risk were eligible with medical documentation.

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — More Elizabeth City parents will now have the option to keep their kids at home for virtual learning.

Thursday night, the board voted to expand who is eligible for their online option as COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket in North Carolina.

When students went back to class last week, only certain students were eligible to sign up for virtual learning.

Those at high risk for the virus or people who live with someone at risk.

"Our COVID numbers kind of give us some direction," said Interim Superintendent Eddie Ingram. "I want the parents in the audience to know we have heard you."

As of Thursday, 309 students in Elizabeth city public schools are quarantined with 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

95 students are currently learning online.

But now, the school board is giving families a little more flexibility

"I do think it’s our moral imperative to do this," Ingram told his fellow board members. "There are parents that have all kinds of issues that they may not necessarily be able to secure medical documentation for. But nonetheless, it doesn’t make the issues any less valid."

With a unanimous vote, the board voted to expand virtual learning eligibility to all their students.

However, exactly how that will be implemented remains unclear.

"It’s not perfect and it’s developing because we’re trying to pivot on a dime," said Ingram.

They said they will send a survey to parents to see how many students are interested and go from there.

"Depending on the number of parents that request it will determine the next steps of how that will look," said Amy Spencer, Chief Academic Officer.

During the board’s Sept. 1 meeting, they voted to approve 25 new positions for virtual instruction to help support this expansion.

Teachers can start applying for those positions now.

Ingram said they are not at a point where they are looking at shutting down the entire district.

"I think we would much rather have a virtual option than a complete shutdown," said Board Co-chair Pam Pureza.

The board said parents will get the survey in next day or so.

If you choose to enroll your child in virtual learning, the board said you will have to stick with the decision for the entire semester.

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