Largest School Districts in North Texas Start Online Learning Tuesday

Updated software to improve students' experience, educators say

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The two largest school districts in North Texas -- Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs -- begin online classes Tuesday having had more time to plan than when the coronavirus hit in the spring.

"I miss my kids. I miss my friends at work,” said Marisa Phillips, a math teacher at Fort Worth’s Southwest High School and a mother of two herself.

But Phillips said she only wanted to return to classroom teaching when it was safe for everyone.

When COVID-19 hit in March, districts scrambled to go entirely online.

"What teachers did to mobilize at that time was phenomenal,” Phillips said.

But still, there were complaints it was disorganized. And some families didn't even have access to the internet.

But with more time to plan over the summer, districts like Fort Worth ISD spent millions of dollars to buy laptops and internet hot spots so students could connect from home.

Schools also are investing in new software.

NBC 5’s Alanna Quillen speaks with Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner about the district’s newest facility.

"We've all had time to onboard all this new technology and all these new platforms and apps and add-ons and extensions and services,” Phillips said. “So we're learning."

They are learning how to better teach virtually, she said.

"The students will have video work to do before they come into class,” Phillips said. “Then we'll have an interactive game that will check their understanding of the material. And then we'll have feedback time."

And when in-person classes do start again, they'll have to make up for the lost time.

Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Kent Scribner said for some, the school day will be longer.

"Once we return in person, obviously we're going to need to do more work to catch our students up,” Scribner said. “So we want to implement after-school programming, additional tutoring."

Phillips said she looked forward to that day when she could see her students again face to face.

“I can't wait to see them and get that reaction from them,” she said.

Fort Worth ISD plans four weeks of online-only classes while Dallas ISD plans to begin in-person classes in just three weeks.

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