Monday was the first day all Waxahachie ISD students were required to return to in-person learning unless they had a medical exemption. If a student didn't show up, they would be considered absent.
On Oct. 12 the school board voted in favor of having the entire district return to in-person learning.
"I think technology is a really good supplement, but it will never take the place of a teacher," said Bonn Cain, PhD., the Waxahachie ISD Superintendent.
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She said poor attendance and grades were a contributing factor to bringing the kids back.
Cain said she believes some students may have lacked parental oversight to stay on task or issues with internet connectivity.
"That was what was scary to us, that we had so many kids who really weren't engaged in the learning process. We had other kids who, like I said, had not been struggling with technology and it was just so frustrating to them. Now we also had kids, online kids, who had perfect attendance and we're making better than 95, so we did have a range, but it was our fragile kids that we were most worried about," explained Cain.
The district said there is an exemption for students who provide a doctor's note, verifying health concerns for either themselves or someone in the household.
The district did explore extending the exemption to students who had good attendance and excelling academically through virtual learning, but WISD said the Commissioner of Education for Texas Education Agency that would target the struggling students.
Cain said in Sept. about 31% of students were learning virtually online, as of last week it was 17% and as of Monday around 9%.
The majority of students went back in class in August, but she said having everyone back will help overall.
"I'm fully confident that we're going to have better attendance, we're going to have higher grades, we're going to have more learning. We're going to have kids who are in school, participating in extracurricular activities, and they're going to be happy that they're here, we love our students," said Cain.
Some parents were not happy about the district's decision requiring kids to come back to class citing COVID-19 concerns.
WISD said they're following the safety protocols including having students wear masks, washing hands and social distancing.
The district said unless parents withdrew their child from the district to homeschooling or transfer them to another district, students who didn't show up on Monday would be marked as absent.