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Killeen ISD to start begin school year virtually

The Killeen Independent School District has decided to begin the 2020-2021 school year virtually on August 17th.
The Killeen Independent School District has decided to begin the 2020-2021 school year virtually on August 17th.(Alex Gibbs)
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 11:46 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2020 at 5:29 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - The Killeen Independent School District has decided to begin the first three weeks of the 2020-2021 school year virtually.

Classes will begin on Aug. 17.

The district will provide in-person learning beginning on Sept. 8.

Parents will have the option of sending their children back to school or continuing their coursework virtually.

Teachers and staff return on Aug. 4 for nine days of professional development and will hit the ground running, Superintendent John Craft said during a news conference on Wednesday.

“This has truly been like redesigning public education,” he said.

“We’ve got nine days. We’re going to be foregoing a lot of the beginning of the year activities such as traditional new teacher induction. We’re going to use that time to provide the training so that teachers are comfortable and familiar with the virtual learning platform.”

Middle and high school students won’t be restricted on moving between classes or during lunch, Craft said.

“We’re going to be rather encouraging and educating students on appropriate hygiene, hand washing, face coverings and all the protocol that we’ve outlined to try and mitigate the spread of the contagion.”

Craft Wednesday tried to reassure teachers with children concerned about child care as they return to campus.

He said the district is partnering with the YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club and Fort Hood to help provide child care.

Some teachers, however, say the option isn’t affordable.

“Having that sudden $300 a month expense on top of already worrying about your safety and well-being is a lot,” said Jennifer Lee.

“It’s a tough situation to be in,” said Kimberly Moorman.

“The district is saying you have a choice, but for those who have a two-parent working household or for teachers, there really isn’t much of a choice.”

Lee added that moving forward, she doesn’t feel safe with schools opening to full capacity and the effect it could have on students and staff.

“What if I was the one who got my teacher sick,” she said.

“What if I was the one who set off this chain reaction and I’m the reason my class is sick? Are we really ready to have that conversation with our students?”

Killeen ISD said it came to the decision about the start date after assessing its ability to expand its virtual platforms to include all students and to keep the original school calendar intact.

This decision is in response to the Bell County Health Districts order last week delaying in-person classes until after Sept. 7.

Tensions flared between school districts and health districts across the state on Tuesday after Attorney General Ken Paxton issued guidance stating health districts do not have the authority to issue school closures as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Craft says that when it comes to COVID-19, the district needs to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

“It’s going to be important to prepare and provide a virtual learning platform for the entire school year,” he said.

Craft also added that when students went virtual in the spring, one of the biggest challenges was connectivity.

To fix this, the district has ordered 16,000 iPads and 1,000 hotspots for students.

Craft says the district is planning several roundtable discussions to answer any questions from parents and employees.

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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