On Wednesday, the superintendent of Godley ISD announced that all virtual students who are currently failing academically will be required to return to campus for face-to-face instruction.
These students will be required to attend in-person classes for the second nine-week period, which starts on October 20.
"After much discussion with district administrators, teachers, and parents, and reviewing academic reports from the first nine weeks, we firmly believe that this decision is in the best interest of our students," Superintendent Dr. Rich Dear.
Virtual learners who have passing grades from the first nine-week period will be allowed to continue learning from home.
"The teachers and staff here at Godley ISD have worked diligently to ensure that our students have all the tools necessary to succeed in their learning, virtually and face-to-face," added Dear.
Dear continued in his letter offering other options for parents who do not yet feel comfortable with their students attending in-person class. Those options include: Withdraw to homeschool. Withdraw and enroll in a charter school that offers virtual learning. Withdraw and enroll in a private school that offers virtual learning. Request to transfer to another district that offers virtual learning.
If things continue, Brittany Wilson says her daughter will soon be asked to stop virtual learning at home and head back inside Godley Intermediate School.
“If the teachers don’t get stuff graded and entered into the grade book, my daughter will be failing two of her classes,” said Wilson.
Her sixth grader may be among about 170 Godley ISD students with failing grades.
The district is nine weeks into the start of the school year and roughly half their virtual learners are failing, according to the superintendent.
“The message is we love your students. Your students are failing. Something needs to change,” said superintendent Dr. Rich Dear. “Those kids that are struggling they’ve already lost a good portion of last year because they weren’t really engaged then. Now they’re in danger of falling even farther behind and two years of significant gaps can impact them for the rest of their lives: social, emotional, career earnings, mental health. It’s critical we get those kids back on track.”
Asked if he believes that other districts who started after Godley did on August 4 will soon find themselves with the same situation of failing students, Dear said “I’ve probably texted with 20 superintendents just today and they’re all thinking about doing something very similar.”
However, during his conversation with NBC 5 on Thursday, Dear said some failing students may continue virtually if a growth plan is put in place and parents and students are more engaged.
“A big reason why students are disengaged, that are not being successful is because it’s very hard for us to get in touch with these parents. One of our principals just yesterday called 25 parents, got a hole of one of them. Our teachers are doing the same thing,” said Dear. “It is possible but they’re going to have to convince us that their student can be successful in an environment that they have not been successful in. It’s going to be a hard sell.”
The TEA says school districts can suspend virtual learning and students can also transfer to districts that do offer it, taking with them funding.
“Sometimes the assignments are unclear,” said Wilson of her daughter’s encounter with online learning assignments.
Wilson said she commends teachers’ efforts.
“I think the teachers at the schools are way overloaded, trying to balance the virtual kids and the in-person kids. I think it’s extremely unfair to them. It’s a huge ask,” she said.
Wilson says if her daughter is mandated to return to in-person learning, she will consider homeschooling instead.