Area school officials weigh options for an uncertain future
Educators across Central Texas are entertaining a wide range of scenarios and weighing an equally wide range of options as they prepare for a new school year filled with uncertainty because of the new coronavirus, efforts to control the spread of which led to school closures and a shift to online instruction this spring.
"I would say school as we know it is going to change," Moody ISD Superintendent Gary Martel said Tuesday.
"Online instruction is great and we are doing it the best we can do right now, but nothing replaces a teacher in the classroom," he said.
While Martel says getting students back into classrooms is important, plans to do that hinge on a number of variables.
"We expect there will be students who stay home because parents will still be concerned in August," Martel said.
"Right now no one has the perfect plan, but we need to be prepared for a flare up of the virus," he said.
Educators in the larger Midway ISD are holding conversations now on what classes might look like come fall, Superintendent Dr. George Kazanas said.
"Our goal is to go back to face-to-face learning, but we understand we might need to do hybrid learning," Kazanas said.
Midway ISD officials are discussing changes to the calendar that could include extended fall and spring breaks, separate morning and afternoon sessions, and staggered attendance on alternating days in order to maintain social distancing.
"We have to balance the health and safety of the students and their need of learning," he says.
But, he says, it’s too early to say what the new school year might look like.
"We certainly haven't made a decision yet," says Kazanas.
Waco ISD officials are holding similar discussions and weighing similar options.
"We are definitely aware of parents wanting to know what the fall will look like, and we want to know too," district spokesman Josh Wucher said.
Hybrid instruction, combining teaching in the classroom and online, is among the options officials are discussing.
"At this time it is too soon to make any decisions, but we are looking at what other districts are doing across the country," he says.
Belton ISD Superintendent Dr. Matt Smith says his district is also looking at a variety of hybrid options, and that he is hoping to have answers for parents by July.
"We hope to give parents a few months to know what is going on so we are aiming for early July," says Smith.
"Whether it be face-to-face or hybrid learning we want to provide our students with the best classroom setting possible," he says.