The back-and-forth between politicians and health officials has left many North Texas parents and students feeling caught in the middle.
Countless families are left waiting and wondering what will happen next in ever-changing back-to-school plans.
At Vicky Ursi’s home in the Lewisville I.S.D. school district, a box of school supplies is ready and so is she.
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“Students who enrolled in person, as of this moment, will be going back on September 8,” she said with a smile.
The school district has received praise and criticism for its announcement Monday stating classes will begin August 19 with virtual instruction.
The district stated it is following a recommendation from the Denton County Health Department.
“There was excitement and then there was disappointment,” said Ursi. “Then there’s just curiosity about what’s going to happen next.”
Ursi would like for her youngest daughters, including one who is not in the district, to return to class for in-person instruction as soon as possible.
The plan for her older child is for him to continue virtual learning where he’s excelled coupled with some in-person classes at his middle school, which was an option offered by Lewisville I.S.D.
But if planning amid COVID-19 has taught her anything, it’s this: “Since this began to affect our lives on March 13 literally the only constant since that day has been change.”
Parents from McKinney to Fort Worth have recently protested back-to-school plans, demanding students return to the classroom without delay.
“I want parents to have the option to send their child in-person or online,” said Tatiana Miller.
Miller’s son attends a private school in Arlington, but she said she is a Fort Worth I.S.D. taxpayer.
She calls Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s opinion Tuesday saying local health departments can’t order schools to delay opening due to the pandemic a ‘win’ for parental rights.
Asked what she says to teachers who are concerned about returning to the classroom amid COVID-19 fears, Miller said “I understand they’re concerned… It’s important for the ISD to respect their wishes and let them teach online if that’s what they wish, but also bring in people that do want to come in and teach kids in person.”
The back and forth has left parents feeling like they’re caught in the middle after hearing one message from school officials, another from health officials and now yet another message from politicians.
“We’re being pulled all over the place,” said Miller. “We as parents and kids are being used as pawns. We’re being used as pawns and that’s not okay.”
Ursi is exploring new options along with other parents in her district.
“Getting a small group of kids together and paying someone to guide them through virtual learning,” she said.
Both mothers say they’re not just concerned about their children’s wellbeing, but that of their district’s most vulnerable students as well.
“It’s very important schools are open,” said Ursi. “It’s the safest place for a lot of kiddos to be.”
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.