Dallas ISD Board of Trustees will meet Thursday to nail down plan for returning to school

On Thursday, Dallas ISD's School Board will meet to nail down a return to school plan.

It's been holding a series of town halls this week to get input from parents and teachers after Dallas County required online instruction until after Labor Day.

One of the ideas is to push back the start date.

Dallas ISD described it’s back-to-school safety measures in a video posted online.

There are still 150,000 students and 20,000 employees waiting to find out when and how the school year will begin.

“We don’t really know what to plan for, so we try to plan for everything,” parent Sarah May said.

May is leery of her 1st grader going back.

“The moment doesn’t feel very safe to go back,” she added.

“Yeah, that’s been the toughest part is just the unknown,” parent Kevin Firkus

Firkus feels that it may be okay with certain measures.

“Yeah, I mean virtual is just tough to really give them the attention that I think they need,” he said.

His twin 3rd graders weren’t fans of virtual learning last spring.

“I did not like it,” Tyler Firkus said.

“I mean, my parents did a great job, like, helping me, teaching me, but I would rather be in the classroom,” Caroline Firkus added.

“Our students are behind and they’re behind because they were doing virtual learning since March,” Dallas ISD School Board Trustee Joyce Foreman said.

Foreman and her colleagues have difficult decisions to make when they meet Thursday.

 “These are difficult times and the pandemic is nothing to play with,” Foreman added.

Dallas County won’t allow in-person school to start until after Labor Day.

So the school board is mulling at least two options: Start the semester on time, online only, on August 17, or delay the start of school entirely, until after Labor Day, cutting the Thanksgiving holiday short and ending school in mid-June.

“The district is not ready for August 17, and so why would you put our children, our employees in a position if we were not ready?” Foreman said.

A concern is connectivity. District officials said 13,600 families still don’t have internet access.

The district is working to provide hot spots and computer devices.

Foreman also spoke of working parents who cannot afford to stay home.

“It’s not going to be easy. You’re not going to please everyone,” she said.

Foreman sees struggles on both sides, as parents weigh in on the balance of education and safety.

“I think pushing back the start date would be fine,” May said.

“You know, they want to just get a plan and move forward with it,” Firkus said.