AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW/AP) – Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said Thursday public schools will be open in the fall for on-campus learning but there will be flexibility for parents who want to keep their children at home.
Texas already allows campuses to hold summer school with social distancing guidelines. Details of a broader re-opening of campus for the fall semester will be released next week, Morath said.
The announcement comes as Texas faces record highs of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Even in that environment, Morath said state officials have determined it will be safe to return to school.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered schools closed March 19, sending more than 5 million students into distance-learning programs to finish the spring semester.
“It will be safe for Texas public school students, teachers, and staff to return to school campuses for in-person instruction this fall,” Morath said. “But there will also be flexibility for families with health concerns so that their children can be educated remotely, if the parent so chooses.”
Fort Worth ISD is giving parents the option of having their children take part in either in-person or online classes this upcoming school year, the district said Wednesday.
During the last few months of the 2019-2020 school year, all classes throughout Texas shifted to online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As that school year came to an end, many were left wondering how August would look for classrooms as the pandemic continues and as the state reopens its businesses.
Fort Worth ISD said it decided to offer both in-person and online options for its students and parents for the 2020-2021 school year.
“In May, we asked all stakeholders for their feedback,” said Superintendent Kent P. Scribner. “Their thoughtful responses informed our decision to provide quality options for every student and family and their particular needs.”
According to the district, the decision-making for parents starts July 1, when online enrollment begins.
The district said the online portion will look different than in the spring due to all teachers working from their schools.
“All Fort Worth ISD teachers will report to work at a school,” Scribner said. “Whether they are teaching in-person or online — or both — they will do so from a classroom setting and engage over the course of a usual school day.”
In-person classrooms will follow “strict guidelines” when it comes to health and safety of the students and staff, the district said.
The school year for Fort Worth ISD begins August 17.
Some students told CBS 11 News Wednesday that they’d rather just be back in a school building.
“It’s easier to just be at school and do it than having to do it at home where you’re supposed to be having your free time and stuff,” one student said.
The district is still working on the details of everything from getting students to school safely to providing masks to even possibly teaching in auditoriums or cafeterias.