FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) — All schools in Fort Bend ISD will start the 2020-2021 academic year with virtual learning, the district announced on Monday.
The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases have increased drastically in southeast Texas, hitting daily records.
The district said the move to distance learning will “give students, parents and staff an opportunity to adjust to online learning and safety procedures.” No in-person extracurricular activities, including athletics and fine arts, will occur during the period of virtual learning.
“This is one of those decisions that won’t be popular. As we are learning fully online, we will not be participating in co-curricular or extracurricular activities. That means marching band, football practice, volleyball practice, any class will be online during the online period,” said superintendent Dr. Charles Dupre.
Fort Bend ISD shared the information in a series of tweets, explaining that engagement in online learning will be required on a daily basis.
“Devices will be provided where needed, and we will make special arrangements for students with no internet connectivity at all in their home,” said Dupre. “We will support gaining access for figuring out another way to make sure that child is being educated from the first day of school.”
Schools will phase in face-to-face instruction with small groups.
Still, the changes aren’t just for students.
“All staff will be required to complete a daily health assessment prior to reporting to work,” the district said in a tweet, adding that all students, staff and visitors will be required to undergo a non-contact temperature check before entering FBISD schools and facilities. Face coverings will be required.
Another concern parents may have is classrooms. Fort Bend ISD plans to use a ratio of 45 sq. feet per student for classrooms, with class sizes varying depending on the size of the room.
The items were all discussed during a 2-hour board meeting, where school officials said each school and campus would have its own COVID-19 Crisis Team.
But how do parents feel?
One ABC13 viewer wrote, “My kids desperately need to go back to school. They crave the interaction with their fellow students.” Another concern was what the return of classes means for families where both parents work or someone is a single parent.
Others also praised the district’s decision to keep learning online.
“That’s great. Health and safety should always be a priority for all children! Let’s hope other school districts will do the same!” one person wrote on the ABC13 Facebook page.
Many teachers and parents have also been asking: what happens if teachers test positive for COVID-19?
Fort Bend ISD offered said self-quarantine is required if a teacher or staff member shows symptoms. Quarantine is also required if they have had close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
During quarantine, that teacher or staff member may work from home, if possible.
The first day of school is August 12. Pre-registration is expected to begin July 22.
You can watch the meeting and learn more about Fort Bend ISD’s online learning plans by visiting the district’s website.