Dallas ISD using delayed start date to prepare teachers for virtual instruction

The largest school district in North Texas will now have the latest instructional start date among the region's major districts.

Dallas ISD’s new school calendar will push the end of the school year until June 18.

The school board met for six hours before making the decision late Thursday night.

READ MORE: Dallas ISD Board of Trustees vote to delay start of school year until Sept. 8

Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa says the decision to delay the start of school three weeks is not about buying time to get buildings ready; it's about getting virtual instruction ready.

The delay also buys the district until as late as November before it could be required to open its doors to students.

Dr. Michael Hinojosa told FOX 4 on Good Day that delaying the start of instruction until Sept. 8 will help teachers prepare for virtual learning.

“Now we have trained them on the tools, Google classroom. Now we have to train them how to deliver science under a Zoom lesson,” he said. “There are some legitimate concerns. In the end, I think we will be better off because of the delay.”

The unanimous vote did not come without reservations from board members, especially the decision to move back the last day of school to June 18.

“Overwhelmingly it is clear people don’t want school year into late June of 2021. They bring up like the impact on summer vacation,” said Dallas ISD Trustee Dustin Marshall.

“If we don’t get this right on virtual, I will frustrate parents. Not comfortable with August 17,” said Dallas ISD Chief of School Leadership Stephanie Elizalde.

Dallas ISD Trustee Miguel Solis questioned how the district will make up for the learning losses due to the loss of face-to-face class time.

“All of this has been about protecting kids’ health right now,” Solis said. “But the decision we will make how to do virtual learning to protect short term health there absolutely is a compromise we are making with long term health.”

While the district initially wanted teachers to teach their remote lessons from their classrooms, they will now be allowed to teach from their homes if they submit a request in writing.

“Need to make sure high-quality environment. Dogs not barking when teachers are teaching. Husband doesn't walk in front of Zoom camera,” Hinojosa said.

The district is planning to begin in-person instruction Sept. 8, but only if it is deemed safe.

Other districts like Frisco, Arlington, and Richardson all say they are sticking with their virtual school start dates for mid-August.