Parents of Pre-K students react to Long County’s decision to return to in-person learning

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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LONG COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Long County families with preschoolers won’t have the option to continue with virtual learning when the district returns to in-person learning on Monday, September 13.

Pre-K students, like those at Smiley Elementary, don’t have a virtual learning option due to funding requirements from Georgia Bright from the Start. WTOC spoke with parents who say they’re not happy.

Pre-K parent Danielle Fontaine says she wants to be able to choose what’s best for her daughter.

“We should have the option to either send our child face-to-face or virtual,” she said.

Stephanie Figueroa says her son’s and her family’s health is at risk if in-person learning is her only option.

“I’m torn on the decision because I want my kid to have an education but I also don’t want them to be in school, and God forbid get sick with anything,” said Figueroa.

Figueroa says her child in sixth grade will stay virtual come September 13, and she would like her son in Pre-K to be able to do the same.

“As long as we get materials to help them learn. We can, as parents, do it with them and help them get through this,” she said.

While Figueroa is deciding whether to take her son out of Pre-K or send him for in-person learning, Danielle Fontaine says her only option right now is taking her daughter out of school, as her kids are immunocompromised. She’s hoping the district will find a way to give Pre-K students the option to learn virtually.

“She’s doing great. She’s on a set schedule. She’s on a routine. She likes it,” said Fontaine.

WTOC reached out to the district, and the Assistant Superintendent said in an email that funding for virtual learning for Pre-K isn’t an option, as Georgia Bright from the Start is only approving temporary virtual learning.

WTOC also reached out to Georgia Bright from the Start, and a spokesman said “Georgia’s Pre-K program approves distance learning for temporary closures. However, face-to-face instruction is most appropriate for very young children.”

The spokesman said the policy could change based on conversations with the Georgia Department of Public Health and the CDC.

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