The Irving Independent School District is doing something good to ensure that its students enrolled in remote learning are living and learning in a safe, stable environment.
The school district recently started a program called its Home Visit Blitz, where educators and district employees set out to visit the homes of 150 students a week.
As of Tuesday, Irving ISD representatives had been in the homes of approximately 800 students.
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Among the many concerns the district has discovered and helped to resolve are internet connectivity, lack of electricity, lack of sufficient food for the family and lack of proper adult supervision.
"We had a family of four, mom is working from seven until four, we went out and visited in their home [and found the kids] by themselves - second grade through fifth - and we are asking them to do work by themselves?” said Lance Campbell, Irving ISD assistant chief of campus operations, of a particularly concerning situation his staff recently discovered. “We called the principal they start [in school] on Wednesday. So those are types of things that we are trying to bridge the gap, and we believe that is making a huge impact.”
The district contacts parents or guardians prior to the visit and each district employee who goes to the home arrives with a complimentary care package of food to be used for meal preparation for the family.
Mayra Orozco has five kids to keep track of at her Irving apartment.
"When I have to go work, it's like, 'Are you guys on making sure they attend class? Get on Zoom?" she said.
Armed with everything from food to hotspots, attendance officers are making the rounds, checking in not only on kids who aren't logging on but also students who may be home alone because their parents are working.
Ninety-five percent of Irving ISD's students are actively participating in class, the district said it hoped steps like this will push them to 100%.
The extra step appears to be working.
“We’ve heard a lot of, ‘God bless you.’ We’ve heard a lot of, ‘Thank you,’” Campbell said. “It’s really been impactful for us. Our teams come back, and they just feel like they’ve done some great things that day.”
The groceries and money to help the families in need have come from charities and nonprofits. The district said it was confident helping families socially will make it easier to learn.