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Parents scramble to find child care as metro Atlanta schools go virtual, daycares close

Thousands of parents have been left to piece together childcare and virtual schooling options, all while trying to work themselves.

ATLANTA — Parents are scrambling this week after school districts and daycares announced they were closing down through January 10th. Some told families they wanted to combat the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19, others said too many staff members had contracted the virus to open. 

That left thousands of parents to piece together childcare and virtual schooling options, all while trying to work themselves. 

"It's really stressful. Half the time I feel like I am losing it with everyone at home 24/7, but if they're home I know they're not getting sick," Mom, Shenika Terrell told 11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross. 

Her kids are in 1st grade, pre-k, and daycare. That's three different COVID-19 quarantine schedules. She says the past two years have been hectic. 

"There hasn't been a month that he's gone to school that his class hasn't been shut down. Every month his class is shut down for a week or two," she said. 

Now classes across metro Atlanta are virtual for the next week, as districts and daycares combat a surge of COVID-19 infections and try to keep numbers down. Shenika says she's lucky she can work from home, but.... 

"I know it's hard for everybody, parents have to work, everybody can't stay home," she said. 

Laura Judge left her job outside the home a year and a half ago to help her 11 and 7-year-old kids with virtual school. She now works from home. 

She says she was just about to send her 11-year-old back in person, when the omicron variant hit. 

"Seeing his frustrations make me frustrated as a parent, because I do want him to be around his friends and in school and having fun," she said. 

Her son is vaccinated and Laura has a background in science, so she follows the infection numbers closely. She says she knows how important it is to get her family tested. But even that has become overwhelming in the past few weeks. 

"The testing locations were insane. And we waited just one hour, not the five hours that some of my friends waited. But we were able to get tested. I am still waiting on those results from Monday of last week," she said. 

Laura and Shenika want their kids to be safe above everything else, but they say they also want them to get back to normal. 

"It's the kids that are suffering. They're not getting the social interaction, they're not learning," she said. 

Shenika's kids are scheduled to go back to class Thursday; Laura's will resume virtual learning tomorrow. 

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