The grace period is running out for parents grappling with whether to send their kids back to school in-person or keep them on remote learning.
A two-week grace period allowing families to switch between the two closed for middle and high school students last Friday, and elementary students have until this Friday.
While parents were asked to pick over a month ago, the schools have continued to shuffle kids between the remote and in-person cohorts on a daily basis — even after school went back into session — providing a level of flexibility that most school systems in the state haven’t offered.
“I am glad we gave parents that opportunity to see what things looked like and how they felt,” Associate Superintendent Trevor Putnam said.
Hundreds of students switched from their initial designation over a month ago. The shuffling has mostly “been a wash so far,” Putnam said.
The numbers have trended toward more students returning, however. Parents who initially said they were staying remote moved to in-person after seeing what school would actually look like — information that parents weren’t given when first asked to choose.
The number of students coming back to school has risen from 74% a month ago to 78% now.
The numbers fluctuate by school. Only 69% of Waynesville middle students came back, for example, while 87% of Junaluska Elementary students came back.
In general, a higher percentage of elementary students came back than middle and high school.
Superintendent Bill Nolte said both cohorts of students are important.
“For us, it was allowing parents an opportunity to choose what was right for their family — in-person did not trump remote only and remote did not trump in person,” Nolte said. “We wanted to do a really good job with both of them.”
Switching between the remote and in-person cohorts is still allowed after the grace period, but would be contingent on approval by the principal based on the individual situation.