Baltimore Co. families fight for virtual learning opportunities

Posted at 5:28 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-02 18:11:24-04

TOWSON, Md (WMAR) — Last school year, it was all about getting students back in person. Now Baltimore County families are fighting for the opportunity to keep their kids virtual with classes beginning in less than a month.

"It frightens us and it frightens my kids," said Dundalk mom Dawn Lee.

Lee is worried about her kids moving in person in the fall, especially because he husband is immunocompromised.

"I don’t want to send my child to school because of the new cases rising every day and the new delta," said Lee.

They unknowingly missed the deadline for the Baltimore County Public Schools Virtual Learning Program and now it’s too late.

"I just feel like with the COVID cases rising that we aren’t the only parents that are going to struggle with this," said Lee.

That includes Parkville grandmother Vicky Barnes, but it’s not because of physical health. It’s about her 16-year-old grandson's mental health.

He’s on an IEP and excelled during virtual learning last school . She initially did not enroll him for the fall because she was worried about the social aspects of the 11th grade that he would miss.

"But as the date slowly approached for returning in person, his anxiety is rising... He stated he receives more help remaining virtually than returning in person," said Barnes.

When she tried to enroll him after the deadline, she got the same response from BCPS as Lee, that they can’t take any more students.

"This is a childs' education here that’s at stake," said Barnes.

The BCPS spokesman said they extended the enrollment deadline for virtual learning from May to July to be responsive to student needs.

"This second deadline was necessary to implement and enforce for planning and staffing purposes. As such, we are no longer accepting enrollments at this time," BCPS said in a statement.

"I understand completely that they needed a deadline to get the staff and things set up for these children when they do return virtually but on the other hand there is time. We’re talking 4 weeks before the start of school, there’s time," said Barnes.

BCPS said 3,400 students are enrolled online this fall and after they announced the universal masking requirement inside schools last week, they had an increase in the number of families reaching out to go virtual.

"Where’s the flexibility in this? There has to be some flexibility on the part of Baltimore County Public Schools," said Barnes.

Tuesday morning, the Baltimore County Board of Education is holding a special virtual meeting to update the community on universal masking inside schools.