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'Communication is going to be key' | Parent advice on Guilford County Schools virtual academy

Noel Pabon said he's found setting a schedule for his daughter every day has helped in her success with the virtual academy.

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — While parents, students, and teachers still try to navigate this new way of learning during the pandemic, some are trying to decide which method of learning is best for their child. 

If your child is not quite ready to go back to school under the plan approved by the Guilford County School board, the virtual academy is still an option through Monday. 

Guilford County Schools extended the deadline to enroll in the virtual academy to Wednesday, Sept. 30, to give parents a little more time to make a decision. 

Noel Pabon enrolled his daughter Nebula into the virtual academy at the beginning of this year. 

"She’s special needs with autism and ADHD and needs a consistent routine, so while already getting in trouble for basic things in school, you know, personal space, following rules, things like that, adding wearing the mask, and social distancing and don’t touch this and don’t share this, it’s going to be even more difficult so instead of adding anxiety I decided this year to just do virtual learning and let’s wait it out this school year," Noel said. 

Nebula, 9, said she's enjoying it so far. 

"I like it! I think it’s cool because I’m still able to see my friends and see my classmates," she said. 

Noel said he helps his daughter list out her routine the night before. 

"We have a daily schedule written out on a dry erase board and we edit it every night so the night before this is written up," he said, "So, the next day, she has what she needs so when I’m working because I work from home when I’m working, she’s waking up and goes to have breakfast and does what she needs to and goes to do her daily course on her own." 

Noel said the road to start the virtual academy was a bit of a bumpy one, with a switch in teachers. 

RELATED: 'I hope it was the right decision' | Guilford County parents react to district's decision to bring students back into the classroom

"We had one teacher and then switched back to the original. So, now we have a routine with her we have a schedule in place," he said. 

Noel said communication will be key in starting the virtual academy if it's something a parent is considering.

"I know a lot of folks work and a lot of folks have a major schedule to put food on the table and I get that but it’s not going to be a 1-2-3 process. It’s not going to be instantaneous," he said, "You want to make sure you have the ability to set a routine." 

Noel said his advice to parents is to make the decision they think is best for their child.

"The only person who can make that decision is the parent themselves. They need to decide, 'Well, I know my kids gonna misbehave if they’re in this situation or they may not follow this rule,' They have to weigh in on what they know of their child, what they expect of their child, and what they know of the school," he said.

The school district extended the deadline to either register or unregister for the virtual academy by Wednesday, Sept. 30. The school district said they'll continue to accept students up until the deadline and assign teachers accordingly. 

Noel said his daughter will remain in the virtual academy for the rest of the school year. 

RELATED: Back-2-School Blog: Guilford County school board approves re-entry plan for students

For more information on the virtual academy, click here