DALLAS - Dallas ISD trustees voted to delay the start of the school year until Sept. 8.
It took more than six hours Thursday for the board to make a decision. The board of trustees took nearly three hours of public comment, mostly from teachers and parents. The overwhelming majority want to delay the start of the school year.
The board voted to delay the start of the year entirely until Sept. 8 and give parents the option from day 1 to have students learn in person or virtually. The caveat being so long as they’re still allowed to learn in-person and no local or state order gets in the way of that.
District leaders say the delay is because they’re not ready for the virtual format. That’s the reason some pushed for more time to get virtual learning in check.
The superintendent reiterated that all of this is fluid because a county or state order could change their plans altogether.
Parents and teachers were very vocal on Thursday, saying virtual learning isn’t ideal. But most who spoke feel it’s necessary.
“Ask yourself if you would send your child or if you yourself would go into a building where there’s an active shooter,” said Chrisdy Houston, a Dallas ISD employee. “Right now, COVID-19 is the active shooter. Let’s not go back into those buildings yet.”
“We can survive some slide in learning. We can creatively problem solve the challenges of virtual instruction. We can band together as a community to support one another and our kids,” said parent
“I am ready to be in my classroom because I understand that many parents will not have a choice. And wherever my students are, I will be, even if I don’t think it’s safe,” said Dallas ISD teacher Christina Puga. “However, this is not the right choice for my old high school teacher who is immune-compromised and just welcomed her new baby grandson in the world.”
"I do not believe with the current rate of infection it is safe to open schools at this time, there is so much we don't know about this virus and how it affects children,” one teacher told the board.
There are just six weeks to go before Dallas ISD can allow students back on campus. Teachers are worried about how the district can ensure their safety.
“I find it hard to believe necessities will be readily available when they never have been before. Hand soap and toilet paper are scarce,” another teacher said.
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For the first time, Dallas ISD allowed video of their preparations on Thursday.
“We are preparing for whatever the decision is,” said Alpher Garret-Jones, principal, Dunbar Learning Center.
The principal showed off lunch table dividers, face shields and individual sets of school supplies.
“How do we prepare for this? We have never ever had to deal with this, but now we are because we have to educate our children,” Garret-Jones said.
She says her teachers are still willing to come back to the classroom.
“Are they scared? Sure. Who isn’t? I mean just standing here, don’t know who has COVID or not. They are willing to take that opportunity to educate the children,” Garret-Jones said.