DALLAS - With questions still swirling about if and when schools will reopen this fall, Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa is holding a town hall meeting to discuss the district's 2020 bond proposal.
Even though school buildings will be shuttered for weeks past Dallas ISD's original school start date and perhaps longer, Dr. Hinojosa said the need for voters to pass a bond this November is greater than ever.
“A lot of voters will vote this year, and voters care about education,” Dr. Hinojosa said. “We are not only operating in a crisis. We are operating for the long term. That is what a bond is. For the long term.”
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The bond would fund new buildings and renovations as well as technology upgrades that could support a virtual school environment.
“We may need to pivot on how we use our buildings because of all the technology for students. But we will still need gathering places for our students, regardless of delivery of instruction,” Hinojosa said.
In a virtual town hall held Monday night, parents and teachers had a lot to say about both the need for in-person school and the risk it brings. Some parents sounded off about the difficulties they experienced teaching their kids at home.
“My concern is I have a first grader and third grader. I work 9 to 6:30. My kids will not be able to learn effectively from home,” one parent said. “For one, I don't get government assistance. I work for hospice. My husband drives 18 wheelers to get food and water to businesses.”
“I have a second grader and kindergartner. We tried remote learning in the spring, and it was insanity,” another parent said. “It doesn't work for the little bitties.”
Dallas ISD says it will have new equipment, like desk dividers, face shields and markers to socially distance. But teachers at high risk said they still don't feel comfortable returning to campus.
“I am so scared to go back under bad conditions,” one teacher said. “I made my wife a promise. If I walk into that classroom and don't feel safe, I am going to walk out.”
A teacher from Bryan Adams High School explained that she felt the district never consulted teachers to get their take before drafting a 90-page reopening plan.
“This is my life. I am 59 years old. I could die if I get this virus,” the teacher said. “This is my life. How dare the district do a topdown and say we will get that information to you. We should be at the forefront.”
Parents also expressed concern about kids having too much screen time with virtual school. It’s something studies have shown is not healthy for kids.
A parent of a child with special needs pointed out how parents need in-person instruction for their children.