DESOTO, Texas - DeSoto ISD board members voted down a motion to make a request for extending online learning past Thanksgiving.
The district was attempting to ask for more time to transition students to in-person learning in light of Dallas County health officials recommending schools go all virtual. But with a tie vote, the motion failed.
District administrators said they wanted the option to extend the deadline to offer in-person classes to all students to Nov. 30, but that failed in Monday’s meeting.
The district says only 22% of students have chosen to return to in-person classes. It has already started transitioning students back into classrooms since Oct. 5 starting with special needs and younger students.
Right now, the plan is to have all students who choose in-person learning back into classrooms by Nov. 4, but the district was trying to extend that deadline through Nov. 30.
The district says Dallas County’s rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are a cause for concern, and the county raising the threat level to “Stay Home, Stay Safe” prompted them to start looking at options to extend online learning.
They’ve also allowed families who opted for in-person learning to switch back to online learning until Nov. 20.
Some who wrote to the school board to share their public comments spoke against returning to in-person classes. Their comments were read out loud during Monday’s meeting.
“Why are teachers required to teach face-to-face when the school board is still meeting virtually? Why are students and teachers being put at risk when the board is not putting themselves at risk by holding face to face meetings - instead are meeting virtually? How is this justified,” DeSoto ISD Trustee Kathy Goad read aloud. “Why are not teachers offered an A/B schedule to alternate their exposure in the building by working at home on alternate dates?”
Another comment read aloud during the meeting came from a concerned employee and teacher of the district who cited rising COVID case numbers within the district.
“I noticed the recent spike in active COVID cases at the high school, specifically and the district in general,” another person said. “Are we really serious about our approach to moving back to face to face learning? Last week there were only 5-8 confirmed cases. This week, there were 12 confirmed and 12 in isolation.”
Board trustees and district employees stressed they need to offer in-person classes by their deadline in order to continue getting state funding. That’s why the district was attempting to get a waiver from the TEA to extend that deadline.
It was a tie vote on the issue, so the motion failed. It appears the district is not able to move forward with applying for the extension at this time.
Other districts like Dallas ISD have acknowledged the threat level rising to red and say they will continue to monitor and stick with their hybrid learning plan. But they are ready to switch back to online learning if needed.