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Working parents, and those whose children have special needs, sound off on struggles with remote learning

While any parent can opt for full remote learning, others who rely on in-school instruction say they are on pins and needles.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The upcoming school year for more 147,000 CMS students and 19,000 staff members to be decided by just one vote, as the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education met in an Emergency Meeting late Wednesday afternoon to decide how or if students should return to classrooms this fall.

While any parent can opt for full remote learning, others who rely on in-school instruction say they are on pins and needles.

“It’s a lot of unknowns and I understand that, but I don’t feel there’s a fair representation, that questions of true parents and working parents are being heard, I really don’t,” said Mary McCormick, who has two elementary-aged students.

McCormick is an essential worker and says her husband also works full-time.

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“I can’t go to my boss and say I’m going to work 4 days this week, see you again at the end of the month,” she says referring to Plan B, which is under consideration by the school board.

McCormick says her daughter, a rising third-grader requires an IEP due to a severe learning delay. McCormick says together with her daughter’s exceptional learning team, they have spent years catching her up to her peers. McCormick says her teachers are, “God sent,” but says her daughter struggled with remote learning this spring.  

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“My daughter went from receiving 2.5 hours of in-services a day while in school to 25 minutes at home once a day on a zoom call,” she says, “Every month is a year of her losing what we’ve worked so hard for.”

If it were up to McCormick, she would send both of her children back to school and says she wishes the district would give parents the option of returning this fall.

“I’ll sign whatever waivers, I’ll sign whatever, but you’re not fully giving me that option, you’re kind of giving it to me but 4 days a week,” she says, adding that she’s worried about how much further behind her daughter will fall if schools remain closed to in-person learning.

McCormick believes Plan B, which combines one week of in-person learning, with two weeks of remote learning, will also lead to challenges with work and finding flexible childcare.

“People are going to lose jobs over this, I mean I’ve contemplated quitting because my kids need me. My job needs me, my husband needs me, my children need me…and I can’t, I just physically can’t do it all,” she says.

McCormick is now one of many parents, who is planning to search for in-home help. 

“I’m trying to find this perfect unicorn of a babysitter, a tutor and a teacher and so is a million other sets of parents right now.”

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