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Pitt County student wants online-learning option, school says not possible

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 9:11 PM EDT
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PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - As COVID-19 cases in adolescents continue to rise across Eastern North Carolina, an 11-year-old Pitt County student and his mother are advocating for an online alternative.

11-year-old Garrett Taylor says when his classmate returned to school after recovering from COVID-19, he came to his senses.

“When we came to school, I was like ‘Where were you? Are you okay?’ And he was like ‘I had COVID.’ It was an awkward moment because we’re desk-mates and I could’ve been exposed to COVID.”

Garrett Taylor, Pitt County student
Garrett Taylor
Garrett Taylor(WITN)

The next day, Taylor woke up anxious about possibly exposing his classmates. His teachers and mother, Dianne Taylor, allowed him to work from home.

“I’m surprised that he was able to verbalize that anxiety because that’s a feeling a lot of students have. And they may not know the right words to express it with their parents.”

Dianne Taylor, Garrett's mother

Since the 2021-2022 school year began, there have been more than 300 positive cases of COVID-19 and more than 2,000 quarantines in Pitt County’s schools.

According to Pitt County Schools spokesperson Jennifer Johnson, an online option isn’t available at this time.

“This year the North Carolina Department of Instruction and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has said that students must be face to face five days a week for a full day schedule.”

Jennifer Johnson, Pitt County Schools spokesperson

Johnson goes on to say the school system is following certain protocols to create a safe in-person learning environment. The only reason there would be for online instruction to occur is if there are staffing issues. The school system also plans to hire five new school nurses.

Meanwhile, Dianne Taylor believes hiring nurses only adapts to the surge of cases, rather than preventing it.

“There’s a nationwide nursing shortage. As much as we try to plan, [it] seems more reactive than proactive. It seems to me that by hiring additional nurses, we want to be prepared to take care of sick children rather than preventing them from getting sick in the first place.”

Dianne Taylor

For Pitt County COVID-19 updates, click here.

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