Parents Taking Action: opting students into full-time virtual learning as covid case rates continue rising

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SOMERSET COUNTY, MD.- “I think that in this particular case that this is the best decision for her and so that’s what we’re going with,” said Somerset County Parent Carrie Samis.

For Carrie Samis, her daughter will be 1 of 10 students attending ESMEC’s Blended Virtual Learning program in Somerset County.

School officials say the pilot program was designed to create a unique opportunity for those that needed another option during the current health crisis.

Yet parents tell me it was never an option, it was their only choice as the county’s vaccination rates so low. “Vaccination rates have crept up very slowly here and we know that there are not going to be mask mandates in schools so far,” said Samis.

Somerset County Health Department’s data provides a break down showing less than half of the counties population has received at least one dose.

Health officials say they are trying. “We’ve got COVID outreach workers who went door to door in Somerset county. Literally knocking on everyone’s door asking ‘hey is there a fear? Is there a concern? Is there anything you want to talk about?,’ said Public Affairs Specialist Kyleigh Beaver.

As they’re trying, across the nation they say COVID isn’t discriminating. “You’re seeing now a lot of the younger people are in hospitals and are getting that severe illness and what we call long-term COVID,” said Beaver.

With so many variables and many things unknown right now, that’s why those like Samis say for her child it’s not worth the risk. “There are certainly young people being negatively impacted by all of this and it’s just not worth the risk right now for us,” said Samis.

Now despite the worries, school officials say there was overwhelming support from community members who wanted traditional, face to face learning to make a return.

Although registration for the program closed back in June, we’re told they are still taking applications on a case by case basis.

A unique feature of the program is that students won’t be taught by teachers in their county, but by outside certified educators across the state.

In addition, the 10 students from Somerset County will be taking these virtual classes with other students from across the Eastern Shore.

Categories: Local News, Maryland