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Virtual academy draws nearly half of district’s students

July 21, 2020 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Nearly half of the students in North Carolina’s Wake County have signed up for the public school district’s virtual academy to avoid in-person instruction this fall.

The Wake Virtual Academy received 78,792 applications, far exceeding expectations, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

The Wake County school board also voted unanimously on Tuesday to begin the school year with online learning for all students, with in-person instruction to follow when practical.

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Some parents and teachers in the district, the state’s largest with 162,000 students, want online classes only for safety reasons as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. But other families say the high demand for the virtual academy should make it easier to reopen schools for remaining students. Tuesday’s board decision means the academy’s enrollment window, previously closed on Monday, will reopen briefly next week.

The state’s public schools have been closed to in-person instruction since March to slow the spread of the virus.

Gov. Roy Cooper said he’s reopening schools in August under a “moderate social distancing” plan that limits how many students can be in schools. Cooper also gave school districts the option of only using remote instruction. He’s not allowing schools to reopen for full-time, in-person instruction.