North Texas school districts discuss possibility of year-round school

The two largest school districts in North Texas have very different views on switching to a year-round calendar.

The state recently gave guidance to any district that wants to begin year-round schooling, but superintendents are waiting for more specifics.

The state is telling school districts to be prepared to have to close individual campuses next year for four day periods if a school has a positive case.

Fort Worth ISD sees year-round school as a possible solution to the missed days, while Dallas ISD is hoping the state will allow it to once again use remote learning to make up for lost time.

Jocelyn Ortiz is 8 years old, and her take on remote learning sums it up for many kids.

“You have something you want to do like a game or drawing, but you have to do your work which is difficult and stressful,” she said.

The Ortiz family has three kids learning remotely.

“I feel like we are at a disadvantage not getting the face to face,” said sophomore student Joseph Ortiz.

As this year draws to a close, the state has yet to answer many questions about next year.

“How do you define social distancing? If you're wearing a mask, can you get close?  A lot of those rules have to be clarified,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa.

The superintendent says June 15 is his personal deadline.

“By that time, we have to have direction on how many students can you have in a classroom,” he said.

The state has issued guidance for districts on moving to a year-round calendar. It’s one option for making up lost time if individual schools have to close.

Dr. Michael Hinojosa has ruled that out for this fall.

“To me, year-round school is such a big heavy lift,” he said. “I think in the long term it has promise.”

But Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner says it's still an option for his schools.

“This is a new world,” he said. “We will have to be flexible. Nimble. Keeping students at heart of every decision.”

Fort Worth ISD just started a community survey that will be open for two weeks. Dr. Scribner says that will determine the direction the district takes.

“Flexibility year-round calendar provides allows us to respond. Can move school days around. Shorter summer allows us to bring back students in greatest need,” Scribner said.

Dr. Hinojosa says to make up for potential lost days, he is hoping the state will allow the district to revert back to virtual learning without losing funding.

With a two-month lesson on remote learning, it's something the Ortiz family says they would be ready for.

Fort Worth ISD says if the community does like the idea of year-round school, they could work with their non-profit partners to move summer camps to the built-in breaks throughout the school year.