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Families that chose virtual schooling facing unforeseen cost

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Raleigh County, W. Va (WVVA) - The problem in two words: printing costs.

Thousands of worksheets that parents in some counties have to spend their own money on to print.

"I'm spending money every week at Staples to print off my students' worksheets because they need that to learn," Amber Abner, parent of a Raleigh County virtual student, said. "A seven and a nine year old do not have the attention span and the focus necessary to be flipping between tabs... 'Oh this is my lesson, but this is my assignment. It's here, and that's there. I need to watch this while I remember what's on this.'"

In Mercer County, Debra Williby-Walker, a grandparent, faced the same issue with printing costs.

"So I contacted the Mercer County Board's Office, I shared it on Facebook, and I asked people to share it and get the word out," Williby-Walker said. "Once counties were made aware that the lessons cannot be complete without the worksheets, then the school boards needs to provide these children with the worksheets. Mercer County and Monroe County, now, they both had a change of heart."

But when WVVA checked with Raleigh County, there is no plan right now to offset parent's printing cost. Superintendent David Price said the parents knew what they signed up for. He said printed worksheets are not needed because the lessons can be completed online.

Abner said she knows no one forced her to choose virtual learning, but there was no way to see just how challenging it would be.

"Can it be done? Yes. Can all seven and nine year olds or elementary age students in general, do they all have the capacity to do that? No," she said.

It's a tough lesson for a mother who said she and other parents were faced with a no-win situation in the choice between virtual and in-person learning.

"It makes me emotional because we are leaving kids behind. We are. Thousands of kids across West Virginia whose parents had to make the same choice that I did, either keep their child safe or make sure their kid has a good education."

Raleigh County is not alone in offering no help with printing costs for virtual students. Wyoming County is taking the same position. While Monroe County is taking the same stance as Mercer, offering to help parents who need it.

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Hannah Howard

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