Dallas ISD to start school year with online-only learning until at least early October

Dallas ISD will start the school year on September 8 with virtual only learning for at least the first four weeks.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said he made that decision based on a recommendation from county health officials.

“Not everybody’s going to be happy with that decision, but it is what it is,” he said. “And it’s the context that we’re in.”

The school year begins Sept. 8 with online-only instruction. The Dallas School Board will decide in the next few weeks whether to extend the delay for in-person instruction even further.

The superintendent understood he may face some heat for his choice, but promised virtual learning will look much different compared to the spring.

“We are getting much more prepared for virtual learning. It's not what you saw in the spring. We’ve done a lot to train teachers on Zoom and Google classroom. Now we're teaching them the curriculum, how to teach reading. We are doing a lot with the teachers. This gives us time to September 8 to deliver on that promise,” Dr. Hinojosa said.

The superintendent believes there is a drop-off in education quality with virtual learning, but he says it’s necessary for now.

In the coming weeks, the district will determine whether virtual learning will extend past Oct. 6. That would require approval from Dallas ISD trustees.

“I can promise you there are going to be some parents this year that are not going to come back to school at all,” Dr. Hinojosa said.

Christina Lopez is one of those parents. She doesn’t want her child in a classroom.

“Because if she gets, she gets me sick. And then I work and I can get somebody else sick,” she said.

Morgan Clayton is ok with her 8-year old going back to class but understands the predicament.

“We don’t know what the days are going to look like,” Clayton said. “But what we do know is whatever it is we’ll figure it out together.”

There are also mixed feelings among teachers and staff.

Rena Honea, president of Alliance AFT, which is the Dallas ISD teachers’ union, is pleased with the decision. And while teachers are eager to see their kids again, she wants virtual learning to last as long as possible.

“They miss the kids. They miss that interaction. The kids want to be there. We want to be there,” Honea said. “But we have to keep people safe.”

Dr. Hinojosa said there is still a debate if there will be high school football this season. Several weeks ago, he said he didn't see football happening this fall.

For now, extracurricular workouts are suspended. They were scheduled to start Monday.

“For us, it would be disingenuous to say you can’t come to school but it’s OK for you to come for practice,” Dr. Hinojosa said. “And so right now, that’s our decision. That’s my decision, and I’m going to get a lot of heat for that.”

The district has not set a date yet for when Dallas ISD trustees plan to discuss whether or not to extend virtual learning. It’s expected that meeting will likely happen within the next two weeks.

BACK TO SCHOOL: School district start dates/delays