By Jannelle Calderon/The Nevada Independent

Like many parents in Nevada, Lisa Cooper faced the difficult choice between sending her children back to in-person classes or keeping them in distance learning while COVID-19 cases surged during the summer.

Cooper said her twin boys struggled spending seventh grade at home last year when using the Edgenuity online program for distance learning, but she was still concerned about the risk of in-person classes and coming in contact with a classmate or teacher who could be infected with COVID-19. Ultimately, she decided to have her children learn from home again but switched to North Star Online School, the Washoe County School District’s K-12 virtual school.

“I don’t trust the school district to make proper health decisions for my kids,” she said. “I just feel like this is the best way to protect my kids. I can’t really give a parent any kind of issue if they think their kids need to be in school … That’s what we all want in a perfect world.”

Cooper’s children are among the more than 1,000 students enrolled in North Star — a figure that has grown in recent weeks amid a surge in COVID cases. The district is now mainly using North Star, a change from last year, when schools offered students the option of doing full-time virtual learning using Edgenuity — a program that even its creators say is not designed for a pandemic and would benefit from more live teacher interaction.

Washoe school officials say Edgenuity is now only used for students who are out sick.

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