DALLAS - A handful of North Texas school districts, including Dallas ISD, have announced schools will be close indefinitely to help slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.
Dallas ISD made the announcement Monday around the same time the city of Dallas announced it would close all bars, restaurants, gyms and theaters effective at midnight Monday night.
"This is unprecedented. In fact, I'm kind of glad we waited a little bit because if I'd have made a decision last week I would have made a different decision," said Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa. "Things are just evolving almost by the hour, but yes, we had to put contingency things in place and luckily we're getting a lot of support from all the governmental agencies at this point."
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Several other districts followed suit a short time later and announced they too will be closed indefinitely. Others said they would re-evaluate at the end of this week or after April 3.
- Cedar Hill ISD
- Dallas ISD
- DeSoto ISD
- Grand Prairie ISD
- Highland Park ISD
- Lancaster ISD
- Richardson ISD
Closed Through April 3:
- Coppell ISD
- Denton ISD
- Garland ISD
- Irving ISD
- Kaufman ISD
- Lewisville ISD
On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said students will not be required to take the STAAR test for the 2019-2020 school year. Districts across the state must still come up with a plan to ensure students are ready to move on to the next grade level. Many are considering an online approach.
In Frisco, teachers are planning a remote eLearning experience for the more than 63,000 students in the district.
"Students will have access to teacher lessons and teachers will have virtual office hours to respond to student needs. Teachers will provide feedback and continue to monitor the progress of students while providing remote learning experiences. Elementary and secondary students should expect to spend 20-25 minutes a day on each subject while Early Childhood students can expect 10-15 minutes per subject each day," Frisco ISD said in a news release.
Hinojosa said starting next week, all secondary students in Dallas ISD will have access to lessons on electronic devices they've taken home. For elementary school students and students who don't have access to the internet, teachers are planning grab-and-go lesson packets for students to pick up every three days.
"We've been working on these kinds things for a long time but now we've been forced to implement these ideas almost on a dime," he said. "The longer we stay out we're gonna figure out how we can get access to the students a little bit closer. And many of our students don't have access at home. So we're working with city and county officials to do that, and also, what other solutions can we come up with on our own."
So is this the end of the school year for students in North Texas? Dallas ISD isn't ready to say that just yet.
"We think that it could be but we're gonna reassess every three weeks. Things do change rapidly and we don't want to have a hard and fast rule that we've already shut down. So every three weeks, we'll take another look at it and see what's possible. And we'll take guidance from the CDC, the county health department and others. And the mayor as well," Hinojosa said.
He also wanted to get the word out that the school district's meal program will be up and running no matter how long schools remain closed. For more information, visit www.dallasisd.org/Page/52614 or check with your local school district.
In North Texas, there are 19 cases of coronavirus in Dallas County, five in Tarrant County, eight in Collin County and one in Denton County. That number will likely go up as more people get tested for the virus.