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Dallas ISD May Adopt Hybrid Learning Plan, Build New School Campus Devoted to Partial At-Home Learning

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Many superintendents of North Texas school districts are planning on what to do if COVID-19 disrupts the school year this fall.

Schools are taking steps to prepare for that possibility by creating workable solutions to keep education on track, including the continuation of at-home learning measures adopted this spring as well as considering a scenario where students only go inside the school building a couple of days a week.

Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said it is likely at-home learning would continue in the fall.

"We need to have an alternate plan and we don't need to whine about it. We need to get our teachers and our students ready for this new normal," said Hinojosa.

Health officials warn of a new, larger strain of coronavirus which may shut down schools again. School leaders are looking to be innovative and come up with a new way of learning that leans heavily on online curriculum.

Hinojosa said DISD was already doing that. Angie Gaylord heads up the innovation department for the Dallas ISD and long before COVID-19 she was studying ways to create a hybrid school.

"It's a learning model where two days-a-week kids would be in a school, brick-and-mortar, and maybe three days-a-week they'll be virtual," said Gaylord.

The plan was to build a brand-new K-8 school where students show up part of the week for class time, social time and a sense of community, but do the rest of the work at home.

"It's unique, innovative, exciting, age range will be something we develop along the way," she said.

What Gaylord planned as a long-term idea may now get fast-tracked into reality.
Hinojosa wants the plan fast-tracked into existence and is looking at whether aspects of the model need to be in all schools.

The district is also looking at what has already worked academically.

Jack Lowe Elementary rose from one of the worst schools in the state to one of the best in the nation. It's won a blue-ribbon school honor. One of the reasons for the success was getting students excited about learning by letting students take the lead on what they learn and how they learn best. That same choice would exist under the hybrid model.

What looks and sounds great on paper still has a huge hurdle to clear with parents who are against being stuck at the kitchen table trying to figure out homework.

Hinojosa said while we may not always agree, it's a choice he said we have to make.

"This is not something we're going to waste, this is something we're going to use forever and we may be able to use for our direct instruction right away," said Hinojosa.

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