DENTON, Texas - The first day of school has been delayed for students in the Denton Independent School District.
School board members voted unanimously Friday to push the starting date back two weeks from Aug. 12 to Aug. 26.
The delay gives teachers and staff more time to get prepared for the year with new coronavirus guidelines, as well as create additional policies.
“Nothing compares to this in terms of the heavy weight it puts on us. Nothing this bad has ever happened,” Charles Stafford, Denton ISD trustee.
Denton ISD’s board of trustees said they made their decision based on advice from local health officials, who say cases in the youngest age groups are growing.
“There were very, very few children that were positive in March and April, and that is changing,” said Dr. Matt Richardson, Denton County Public Health.
The district is working to figure out what to do if a student tests positive or if an entire class needs to quarantine and go back to remote learning.
“When we do have face to face and we do have periodic closure, which we will have, we need to be able to flip that switch fairly quickly,” Dr. Jamie Wilson, Denton ISD Superintendent.
Parents in Denton ISD have until mid-August to choose in-person or remote learning for their kids. Wilson said Friday he expects more parents will choose remote learning.
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Other districts, like Garland ISD, are doing a phased in approach. They plan on using the first three weeks of school to transition from all remote learning into face to face for families who choose that option.
Little Elm ISD will delay school until August 25 and Dallas ISD is also considering delaying the start of the school year, as well.
Teachers, support staff and bus drivers are raising serious concerns about physically sending kids back to school too soon.
“This is not a time for politics, we must listen to the experts,” said Shawana Washington, Dallas ISD employee and grandparent.
“How to enforce the six-foot distancing on the bus, how to enforce students wearing masks on the bus, how to keep healthy air circulating on the bus, how to medically manage students on the bus? So many unanswered questions,” said Anthony Peterson, Dallas ISD bus driver & grandparent.
Parents have questions too, like how classrooms will be arranged, how special education and younger students will handle the new protocols and the possibility of overcrowded hallways.
“At the end of the day, what matters is the health of our children. If one student dies because we didn't listen to the experts, that child's life will be on the individual who disregards science and pushed reopening too soon,” Washington said.