DALLAS - As Texas begins to gradually reopen businesses, it raises the question of how schools will reopen in the fall.
Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa spoke with FOX4 about some of the ideas and challenges.
He said that even though he would like to think that school could return to normal mid-August, he knows that it is more likely his team will have to use the next three months to figure out how to re-invent school altogether.
As 230 Dallas ISD school buildings sit empty, with their 157,000 students at home, the same people who teach kids how to be problem solvers, now have a big problem of their own.
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It begins with physical distancing.
“Our classrooms are designed for 30 students. If you can only have 15, you have to go to two classrooms,” Dr. Hinojosa explained.
And that creates a complex issue involving staggered schedules.
“One of the things that is emerging is on Mondays and Wednesdays we, have one group of students and they spread out. Tuesdays and Thursdays, another group. Fridays would be virtual, but that will create a hardship on parents. How do we do that?” Hinojosa explained.
Another idea is early dismissals and late arrivals, with lunch in the classrooms.
“We have a lot we have to work through before we get there, but we know we have to start planning right now,” DISD’s superintendent said. “Ready to pivot, depending on the circumstances at the time.”
And then there is the question of how you keep kids spaced apart on a playground.
“We have 30-minute required recess. 30 minutes to go outside, that can be managed better. If weather is bad, have to do some hybrid recess in the class, where we do something different and creative,” Hinojosa said.
California Governor Gavin Newsom is suggesting starting the school year in July to make up for learning losses during the time at home.
But Dr. Hinojosa said he has already ruled out that idea.
“To have everyone back in July, we won't be ready under circumstances we are anticipating,” he said.
[REPORTER: “Are there going to be losses that will have to be made up for?”]
“Yes there will be,” Hinojosa responded. “We just have to figure out how to get students back first.”
Dr. Hinojosa emphasized that the district will follow the recommendation of health professionals, and everyone will know a lot more in June, based on the impact of the gradual reopening.