Fort Worth ISD

Fort Worth ISD Welcomes Students Back to Class, Encourages Masks

The Fort Worth ISD school board will meet Tuesday to determine its next steps on its face mask policy

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On the first day of the school year for Fort Worth ISD, Superintendent Kent Scribner made the rounds -- visiting campuses and greeting returning students.

With a district of more that serves 84,000 students, Scribner is eager to see those students return to class after a year of virtual and hybrid learning.

"We know the best place for our students is in person and in our schools," he said. "We want our students to recover from the time that they were home last year. A high percentage of our students chose virtual learning as opposed to in-person, and they trailed in student achievement."

Fort Worth ISD will offer expanded school days, an expanded school year and Saturday classes to try and help students recover academically from the pandemic after test scores showed more students were failing to meet grade level.

On the campus of O.D. Wyatt High School in southeast Fort Worth, the majority of students chose virtual learning last year, leaving around 150 on campus. This year the principal said he hoped to see 1,600 students return.

The district is focused on recovering from a year of learning loss due to the pandemic and bringing students back amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

It has brought on anxieties beyond those first-day jitters.

"I'm kind of nervous because I [need] to be thinking about college stuff, but I'm mostly kind of nervous with everything else going on," 10th grader Natalie Hernandez said.

After utilizing hybrid learning last year, Hernandez said she was nervous to return to school amid the spread of the delta variant.

Parent Sheena Beard shared the same feelings.

"I'm kind of nervous," Beard said. "I'm excited though, just kind of anxious."

Protecting students and teachers has turned into a fierce debate as the new school year begins. Concerns about coronavirus in the classroom have parents and school leaders battling over who gets to make the decision about wearing a mask. NBC 5’s Allie Spillyards takes a look at the legal fight in Fort Worth.

Though she would have preferred her ninth-grade daughter continue with virtual learning, her daughter wanted to be back in the classroom.

"Some people inspire you to do good in school, like if you're feeling down, they will lift you up," ninth-grader Nygiah Beard said.

Scribner said his focus remained on getting students back in the classroom safely and keeping them there.

"Overwhelmingly our students are choosing to wear masks," Scribner said. "We want to make sure our students are safe on the first day of school, but also remain safe so we can keep our schools open throughout the school year."

While the district said it can not legally enforce masks after a judge struck down the district's mask policy last week, it is encouraging everyone to wear one.

The Fort Worth ISD school board will hold a special meeting to take up the mask issue again on Tuesday.

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