DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As classrooms remain closed for the rest of this school year, many parents and students are left wondering about the future of classes in August with the continuing outbreak of the coronavirus.
Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa addressed these concerns Monday morning, along with outlining several preliminary plans.
With no end to the pandemic in sight, Hinojosa wanted to provide a brief look into how the district will be handling the beginning of next school year.
The district’s first plan is simply “business as usual.” However, Hinojosa stated bluntly that this plan is “highly doubtful,” especially since case numbers continue to increase and the fact that the state of Texas has not yet fully reopened.
Last week, nonessential businesses were allowed to reopen but at a 25% limited capacity and with social distancing guidelines in place. This included certain types of businesses like retail stores and restaurants.
Hinojosa’s second plan involves continuing with the current state of learning, which is all through online.
“Plan B, we stay in the current state. Highly unlikely. I believe that things are going to improve between now and August,” he said.
The plan Hinojosa said he sees as “highly likely” is the third, which involves some sort of “blended learning opportunity.” However, he said “Plan C” would have numerous factors that would need to be taken into account to make sure students are safe.
“A lot of it depends on exactly where the state has us, where the health officials have us, where the governor has us. That will be determined as which version of C we have to actually execute,” he said.
Hinojosa outlined some of these factors, which include safety of the students, various recommendations from health officials such as screening and the personal protection equipment in place.
“If the PPE is in place and you have 150,000 students then how in the world are you going to execute that? How are you going to have the supplies available? And when are they going to be delivered? So there a lot of things we have to worry about,” Hinojosa said.
The superintendent also mentioned other issues such as transportation of the students to the schools. Transporting via school buses could be a factor if guidelines have to be set in place.
He also said there could possibly be more closures in the future.
“We think every health official has told us there may be periodic closures in the future, so we will have to plan for that,” Hinojosa said. “We will stay in touch with all the requirements, we are looking at our current policies… about where we are going to be.”
Another issue that was brought up was about supervision of students if they have to learn from home. Hinojosa said having a hybrid learning experience that includes both in-person and online classes could prove to be troublesome for families as parents will have to go back to work.
“Most of our parents are hourly workers, so they have to be on their jobs. They can’t work remotely, they can’t be at home with their children, so we have to take all of these into consideration. So, that’s kind of where we are with the planning. It it iterative right now,” he said.
Hinojosa said he and other district officials could get a better idea of what plans to go with in a couple of weeks.
He said the district is ready to go with their first and second plans. But, the likely scenario is expected to be some sort of third plan.