About 60 superintendents and school board officials participated in a conference call Friday regarding the reopening of schools, according to Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley.
“The goal from the meeting this morning was to hear what the TEA had to say and then follow up this afternoon with another meeting to determine what, if anything, had changed as a result of what TEA had put out,” Judge Whitley told NBC 5. “I think the general consensus between public health as well as the schools was to try to push back the actual opening of the physical facilities of the schools until after the Labor Day.”
The call came on the same day the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced school districts can delay the start of on-campus instruction for four weeks. If necessary, the delay could be up to eight weeks with approval.
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“It gives them the flexibility and I think they will take care of the consistency as it pertains to the school systems of Tarrant County. There may be an outlier one or another, and that’s okay. We prefer for it to be pretty consistent but I heard a lot of collaboration. I heard a lot of discussion back and forth among the superintendents,” Whitley said, referring to the new guidance. “I will always opt for local control because I think each one of these districts have a unique story to tell. Fort Worth, Arlington, some of these mega districts, they’re different than the Eagle Mountain, or some of the smaller districts.”
No decisions were made from the call with superintendents and school officials, Whitley said.
The flexibility for school districts to potentially delay in-person instruction beyond the TEA guidance of four weeks was welcomed news, according to Steven Poole.
Poole is the executive director of the United Educators Association, which represents about 26,000 educators and public school employees.
“We’ve heard overwhelmingly from our members that they are afraid of going back to in-person school, so this is very good news. We’re encouraging school districts in the area to take advantage of this time. Delay in-person schools for the first four weeks and then work to find a good, safe way to bring the students and staff back to the schools,” Poole said. “Instead of the TEA making decisions for the entire state, school districts will be able to make decisions on what’s best for them but a delay in in-person schools will allow a district to finalize their plans because right now, teachers think it’s too soon to go back indoors.”
Registration for Fort Worth ISD students opened on July 1, with the option of choosing either in-person or virtual instruction. District spokesperson Clint Bond told NBC 5, district officials were still “digesting” the new information and guidance from the state.
The options for Fort Worth ISD parents remain in place as of Friday, Bond said.