Amid COVID surge, some Columbia County parents regret choosing face-to-face learning

Published: Jan. 24, 2021 at 12:41 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2021 at 5:19 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - As COVID-19 cases rise, and numbers in Columbia County schools peak, some parents wish they never sent their child back to in-person learning.

Storm McClure says it was a tough decision for her to decide to take her kids out of learn from home and into the classroom.

“They just really wanted to go back to school, and with the hybrid model, we thought it was safe. And so we made that decision,” said McClure.

She switched her children back to face-to-face learning when the model was still hybrid. We interviewed her back in the fall of 2020 about her choice.

“My children’s mental health is one reason. They need to be back in person. They need to be able to be in contact with other people and they learn better in school,” she said in September.

The model has since changed to face to face instruction five days a week. Now, she says she wishes she reconsidered.

“I do regret it,” said McClure.

When the district made their decision to move to five day a week in-person learning, we reported they had 31 students and 18 employees out with COVID-19.

According to numbers released Friday, the numbers among students have increased almost 5 times more than those original numbers. At least 152 of their students currently have COVID-19, according to the district.

“I worry every day. I go back and forth every day whether or not I’m doing the right thing, whether or not I’m keeping them as safe as I can,” said McClure. “And I have to weigh their mental health and their physical health against each other and try and decide what is best.”

Meanwhile, other parents on social media tell us they made the switch to in-person learning and are happy with their decision.

“My middle school kid was [learn from home] but switched back to traditional school after Christmas break. So glad we switched back to traditional school for her! She NEEDED that structure and I was having a hard time finding the perfect balance of structure for her,” one parent wrote.

But McClure tells us after looking at the numbers, she wishes the district would go back to the old model.

“I would love to see them go back to hybrid, at least right now while the spread is so high,” she said.

For now, it doesn’t seem to be on the table. For many parents, hind sight is 20/20.

In previous interviews, Columbia County told us the reason they weren’t able to accommodate frequent model changes is due to issues with staffing and consistency. They tell us students switching models in the middle of the year forces them to reallocate teachers.

They say they stopped allowing students to switch after every 9 weeks of school in hopes of making things more stable for both teachers and students.

Students who need to switch into the learn from home model still can, but must present the school with a doctor’s note.

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