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Some Knox Co. parents want more learning options as coronavirus cases spike

Once a Knox County Schools student decides to enroll in virtual or in-person learning, they’re locked into the decision. But some parents say they want to reverse course as COVID-19 cases spike.
Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 10:53 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - As Knox County students return to classrooms after going virtual prior to winter break, parents are now asking for more flexibility.

“I was upset we didn’t have an option back in August or a hybrid model to go virtual, or stagger days, something to make parents feel safe, but we weren’t given an option, it’s like that’s it end of story,” said Colleen Leclaire the mother of a first-grader in Knox County Schools.

Leclaire’s son has ADHD, and at first she elected to enroll him in in-person learning.

”We had the option to go virtual in August and that was great but, we decided to send him back because case counts were low, and he needed to go back he needed social interaction and he was not getting enough,” said Leclaire.

Tuesday, Knox County Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan warned parents and health officials that an increase in COVID-19 cases was imminent after the holidays.

”We do have concerns about going back we do anticipate our cases are going to go up,” said Dr. Buchanan.

This warning from the KCHD worries parents like Leclaire.

”As a parent, you don’t want to subject them to something that could potentially kill them, I mean that’s scary for any parent,” said Leclaire.

Outside of a Knox County’s Shannondale Elementary School on Tuesday, Superintendent of Schools Bob Thomas said they’re watching the expected rise in cases, but have every intention to continue with in-person learning.

”We’ve got parents of 45,000 students who wanted the in-person opportunity so we’re committed to providing that, and I just think from a standpoint of the students and their progress it’s the best option, that’s not to say that the virtual platform is not successful because it is,” said Thomas speaking to several reporters.

While Leclaire is aware that the path her son is on is the one she chose, she is asking the district to hear parents’ calls for an option to make a change.

”Two weeks later everything skyrockets and we don’t have an option,” said Leclaire.

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