WEST ORANGE, Texas — The West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District amended its virtual learning policy, and the changes may force dozens of students to return to campus.
It's a move that isn't sitting well with some parents as they weigh the dangers of face-to-face learning during a pandemic.
The policy has sparked outrage among some students and parents of WOCCISD, and many feel like they're having to choose between health and an education.
Virtual learning has become a way of life during the pandemic. The prospect of it not being available concerns parent Ryan Melancon.
"This decision doesn't just affect money, it doesn't just affect kids' education, it affects the lives of parents and the grandparents these students will come and contact with," Melancon said.
He has two children in WOCCISD. The district recently announced that students who aren't passing and who have more than 5 absences can no longer participate in virtual learning.
A district spokesperson said a number of students simply aren't showing up and aren't completing coursework, which led to the change in policy.
Rayne Keith, Melancon's daughter, said her biggest concern is potentially bringing the virus home.
"My dad could die and I just don't want that to happen so I take it very seriously and there are a bunch of parents that their parents could die from COVID and the school just doesn't seem to care," Keith said.
She feels that the school should handle things differently.
"The school has made a situation that they could have managed a lot worse," Keith said.
WOCCISD will allow a few exceptions. Some of those who are passing classes, have health conditions, or have been exposed to the virus will be exempt. Melancon said it's not enough, and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his kids.
"If I have to pull them from the district I will. They will not be going back. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when they will catch COVID at these schools," Melancon said.
Students who meet the criteria that the district has set are expected to return to campus on Monday, October 5. For anyone with concerns about the policy, you're encouraged to contact the district.
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