Elementary schools in the Dallas Independent School District will welcome back some prekindergarten and kindergarten students whose families chose in-person learning next week. All students whose families chose face-to-face instruction will return Oct. 5.
But out of the 147 elementary schools, there's one that could have a different look. Lakewood Elementary School could have to use a hybrid model because of the number of students expected on campus.
"The school has done the best they can as far as the teachers and what they’re offering, but it’s not the same as in person," said Carrie Henderson, who has four children who attend the school and are learning from home. “Personally, I feel like wearing shields and masks are effective enough and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t all be able to come back."
Dallas ISD sent parents surveys at the beginning of September asking if they wanted their child to learn virtually or in the classroom.
The majority of parents at Lakewood Elementary School, which is made up of 1,110 students, opted for in-person learning.
"We saw a great response from parents wanting to return to on-campus learning so we're at 82%, over 900 students wanting to return to the campus for learning, which does create a space concern. We want to make sure that all students are 6 feet apart and are using their masks and their other procedures for safety," said Jolee Healey, chief of school leadership for Dallas ISD.
She said they've looked into portable buildings or using other areas of the building as classrooms, but that's not possible right now. Instead, they're proposing a hybrid model for students.
"At Lakewood, the principal is working with teachers and the SPDM (security protocol and data model) some PTA leaders came up with their preferred model, which is actually the students coming five days a week, but only half days. So half of the students would come in the morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and the other half, come in the afternoon from, I think it's 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.," Healey said.
The district will ask Lakewood parents again on Wednesday through a survey to choose either distanced learning, the hybrid model or to transfer their child to a nearby school offering in-person learning.
“I do think the hybrid model is a great idea as far as trying to compromise to make sure that the staff gets what they need and the kids get what they need as well," said Shelly Rosenberg, whose child attends Lakewood.
“We want them back to too, I wish it were simple. This is such a complex situation and something that we are all dealing with for the first time, and safety is our number one priority," Healey said. "So we are meeting with the county health department, working with Texas Education Agency and in conversation with other districts trying to figure out how can we first and foremost maximize safety, but then also achieve our mission of ensuring a high-quality excellent education for all students. We feel that frustration and we want to communicate more and better and be great partners with them (parents)."
High school students will also follow a hybrid model. Students will alternate going to campus on different days to minimize the number of people inside schools at one time.
Students starting prekindergarten, kindergarten, those moving to a new campus for fourth or sixth grade, from elementary to a new middle school, and from middle school to a new building for high school have the option to return to school Monday.
All other Dallas ISD students start in person Oct. 5.