DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa announced Thursday afternoon the school district would have no on-campus classes until at least October 6 and would start classes on September 8 online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have the authority as Superintendent without board approval to have virtual learning for the first four weeks of school,” said Hinojosa. That is the decision my team has recommended to me and the decision I am officially making. Not everyone is going to be happy with the decision, but it is what it is and it’s the context we are in.”
He also said all extra-curricular activities will remain in a distance setting as well, including strength and conditioning, band and drill team, all UIL and visual and performing arts activities.
Shortly after the announcement, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted his approval of the decision, saying, “I’m grateful for the courage and leadership displayed by Dr. Hinojosa who delayed in person instruction for another four weeks. By heeding the recommendation of the public health experts, @dallasschools protects our greatest asset – our children – and those who serve them.”
I’m grateful for the courage and leadership displayed by Dr. Hinojosa who delayed in person instruction for another four weeks. By heeding the recommendation of the public health experts, @dallasschools protects our greatest asset – our children – and those who serve them.
— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) August 20, 2020
Dallas ISD is the largest school district in North Texas and the second largest in the state.
About 45 minutes after Hinojosa’s announcement, Cedar Hill Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Gerald Hudson announced on Thursday that all CHISD classes will be held virtually during the month of September.
“The unprecedented COVID-19 Pandemic has created circumstances where we have had to adjust our plans, often on short notice,” Hudson said. “We promise our parents, scholars and staff that these decisions are made with health and safety as the top priority,” said Hudson.
Cedar Hill will also begin classes on Tuesday, September 8.
The original plan included a choice between in-person and online learning.
TEACHER UNION REACTION
The decision came as a relief to the many teachers who’ve opposed opening schools.
“When it jeopardizes human life, not only in those buildings, but in the homes, in the community, in the lives of the people who deliver the education lessons, that has to be considered,” said Rena Honea, president of Alliance AFT, the district’s largest teachers’ union.
PARENT WHO SUPPORTS THE DECISION
Barry Jacobs has a fifth grader entering Dallas ISD and supports the district’s decision.
He has his concerns, though, about online classes.
“I think you’d have to be crazy not to be worried about the quality of virtual learning,” he said.
He also knows it will be difficult for many families with limited access to the internet, child care, or quiet space in their home.
“I have one friend whose got all the equipment and technology, but he’s got six kids and trying to get them all scheduled for virtual learning, you know, on one WiFi connection is a real problem.”
Still, Jacobs says, he believes Hinojosa weighed his options and made the right choice.
“I do think in this instance he has made the right decision and that he has taken the health and safety of our kids into account. And, I think that has to be first. The other stuff, we can figure out. We’ll figure it out down the line,” he said.
Losing a child, parent, or teacher is not a risk he wants to take.
“I don’t know how we could live with that on our consciences,” he said.
Andrea Lucia contributed to this report.