Thousands of Dallas Independent School District students returned to schools with enhanced health and safety measures. For the students choosing to return, it was their first time in a classroom with a teacher for in-person instruction since March.
According to district officials, 53% of students have made the choice to return to classrooms for in-person instruction.
“Principals and teachers have planned procedures to maximize safety,” Dallas ISD Chief of Schools Jolee Healey said. “We have had plenty of deliveries – so, supplies at every school and it includes hand sanitizer, masks, everything we need to ensure safety.”
Superintendent Michael Hinojosa wouldn't take off a mask as he toured campus Monday, saying normally he would if he was distant from others, but not with the current cases across the country.
Hinojosa said while he's concerned about COVID-19 he's also worried about learning losses teachers are detecting with some students.
"These students are far behind, we don't need to let that happen, we're going to do some short-term things and long-term things in how we get caught back up," said Hinojosa.
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Students expressed similar apprehension about the return saying it was "weird" and they were happy to see friends but worried about coronavirus.
Healey said the district have worked all summer for the return of students.
Teachers will have a variety of teaching situation with students: solely in-person, solely virtual or a mixture of both students together.
“When we have a mix of students we are building community, we are engaging in the same lessons and having chats with friends that are outside the classroom,” Healey said. “So, we are going to see a variety of models in place.”
Students who were starting the school year at a new campus were allowed to return to classrooms Sept. 28.
“Week one has gone very well and something that we’ve learned is that our experience with students over the last few weeks through distance learning and ZOOM has helped us to already build relationships,” Healey said. “So, even our youngest learn that may have already had apprehension about school found that they recognized their teacher right away. They had already been taught the procedures. So, think we have already learned a lot of lessons from this time that I think we will carry forward every year.”