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Year into pandemic, how schooling has changed for 2 Triangle families

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ABC11 caught up with two families a year after the pandemic started to find out how their children's education has changed.

Video Transcript

- I was asking Tommy if my math--

GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: There are five children in the Klieman household in Apex, the family creating a space in the home for each child to learn remotely when Wake County Schools shut down last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HAJNALKA KLIEMAN: Right now, he's playing a word game.

GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Six-year-old John learning how to use a computer. Now the kindergartner is back in school daily.

JOHN KLIEMAN: I like being in school. Not virtual.

- And why is that?

JOHN KLIEMAN: Because-- it's just that I actually get to be with my friends and teachers.

GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: While nearly half of Wake County students remain enrolled in the virtual academy, Hajnalka Klieman and her husband deciding to send their kids back for in-person instruction. The older children, Joseph, Thomas, and Peter, learn virtually at home for two weeks at a time, and are in school for one week at a time.

HAJNALKA KLIEMAN: I am very comfortable. The infection levels have gotten lower.

GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Fifth grader Erzebet going back to school daily starting this week after a decision by the Wake County Public School System board.

ERZSEBET KLIEMAN: I am very excited. I'm very excited to be able to see, like, all of my classmates, because we only got to see one cohort.

GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: While the Klieman children are doing well with learning the content, Hajnalka admits it hasn't all been smooth sailing.

HAJNALKA KLIEMAN: One of my children is struggling with mathematics. So I have a concern for him, with how is that going to play, and I know that he wouldn't be in the position he's in now if he had been in the classroom every day.

EVAN PORTER: Yeah.

- Emily.

GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Whitney and Sumetrice Porter decided to keep their children in remote learning, even as Durham Public Schools welcomes back students into the classroom this week.

EVAN PORTER: [INAUDIBLE]

GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Eight-year-old Evan has cerebral palsy and a compromised immune system.

SUMETRICE PORTER: We decided for the safety of my children, and especially my child that is special needs, that it was going to be best for our family that we kept him safe and not exposed to potential viruses that may come home.

- After I count you off--

GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Evan's sister, 13-year-old Kyndal, is also doing all her schooling online-- even band. Unlike some students struggling with virtual learning during the pandemic, Kyndal has thrived.

KYNDAL PORTER: I just think it's much better for me, and I work better and learn better online than in school. I know that's different for some people. But for me, that's what works for me.

SUMETRICE PORTER: She's getting straight As, so she's doing much better, I would say. She was an A-B student, and now she's a straight-A student.

GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Virtual learning works for the Porters, who have a nurse helping Evan and flexible work schedules.

SUMETRICE PORTER: We probably are an anomaly, from a family perspective, that we've had the privilege and the opportunities to be able to do that as a family.

GLORIA RODRIGUEZ: Due to remote learning, some schools in our area are reporting an increase in failing grades, poor attendance, and learning loss, some suggesting that catching up students could take years. Gloria Rodriguez, ABC11 Eyewitness News.

- Gloria, thanks.