On a warm, summer night in Athens, the East Coast Sox club baseball took to the diamond at Athens Elementary School for a little practice.
The team is coming off of its win at the Arkansas Global Sports World Series tournament hosted by the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA).
As the players worked on their base running drills, assistant coach Jeremy Eslick surveyed the ball field. Among the players is his seventh-grade son, Charlie Ray. Eslick said his son has been much happier since he has been able to play ball these past two months.
"I think he's even happier now because it gave him something to look forward to. He actually likes going to school," Eslick said.
He and the other parents around the diamond said they were relieved to hear that 11 school districts, including Limestone County School and Athens City Schools, would keep their back to school plans, which give parents the choice of whether they want their kids in a classroom.
"I know that they've done everything that they possibly can because nobody wants to see a child possibly lose their life to something like this or be sick or anything like that," Eslick said.
School administrators, like Anthony Hilliard, the vice-chair of the Limestone County School Board, said they heard from a lot of working parents who were worried about losing the option to send their kids to school.
"A lot of people work and they can't be home to do the online classes with their students, with the child. And I think that's going to handicap some students in some ways because there's no one there to reinforce the content, besides the virtual teacher," Hilliard said.
Over at Athens City Schools, Interim-Superintendent Beth Patton said only about 35 percent of all of their families chose the virtual route. A number of parents in her school district had similar concerns to those with Limestone County Schools.
"We have parents who are really struggling finding someone to keep children during the day and to be able to provide that education during the day while they are at work. That seems to be the major concern that we're hearing," Patton said.
Both she and Hilliard said if the numbers in Limestone County and elsewhere continue to increase, they will re-evaluate if necessary.
For now, parents like Eslick said they believe their school systems are doing the best they can to give their children a homerun semester.
"I just hope people show people respect and love and understanding because it is a difficult situation for many people," Eslick said.
Parents of students at Athens City Schools have until Friday afternoon to decide if they want their children in the virtual academy.