Questions, concerns arise as Dallas ISD goes online for 155,000 students

Dallas ISD students are on Spring Break. But in a matter of days, thousands of parents, students and teachers will be navigating online instruction.

It raises concerns ranging from access to compensation. It’s very unfamiliar territory for most everyone involved, and there are a ton of questions and answers.

As Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa put it, it’s unprecedented and still evolving hour to hour.

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Lindsey Klein and her third grade son, John, went on a Spring Break run at White Rock Lake on Tuesday. But come Monday, it’s school like never before.

“I’m pretty concerned. I’m very un-tech savvy,” she said. “I’m going to have to learn about Google Classroom, and I think one of the teachers mentioned Zoom.”

As Dallas ISD gets ready to shift to online learning for many of its 155,000 students, Dr. Hinojosa told Good Day by phone Tuesday morning that most secondary school students should have devices by next week to get lessons.

READ MORE: Some North Texas school districts, including Dallas ISD, to close schools "indefinitely"

The district is working to provide internet access to as many students as possible, but a big concern is elementary school students. The district is recommending parents spend 30 minutes a day on each subject: math, science, social studies and reading.

“We did send some lessons home with the kids before they left,” Hinojosa said. “But also every three days, the students can come to the school and grab-and-go: grab lunch and food for three days and also grab lessons.”

Rena Honea is the president of Alliance AFT, representing thousands of teachers and school support staff.  She says teachers are relieved STARR testing was waived for the year, but there are still significant issues.

“That leads to a question of compensation because test scores, student surveys. All of that are a part of the evaluation system,” Honea said. “So there has been a numerous amount of questions coming about how are we going to be evaluated. I haven’t had my extended observation yet. How is the district going to deal with this and be fair about it?”

Honea says there’s also concern for hourly employees.

"We do not want to punish employees, especially our hourly employees, many of whom are our parents,” Hinojosa said. “We're going to be made whole by the state as long as we have a bonafide opportunity to provide some kind of instruction, and that's why we've gone to the lessons that we've gone to.”