virtual learning

Virtual Learning Returns as Schools Struggle With Rising COVID-19 Cases

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Few people like it, especially at the elementary level, but virtual learning is back in several districts on a class-by-class basis based on the number of positive cases.

Once exceeding certain thresholds, students are banned from the classroom and entire classes are going virtual.

"I think I was checking my emails all day every day, pressing refresh worried about the email coming, I was expecting it," said Jenny Thomas, mother of a 2nd grader.

Thomas' daughter Emory met with her class virtually for the first time this school year. 

More than 20% of the students in the class tested positive for COVID-19.  District rules forced the class to quarantine for a week in hopes to keep COVID-19 out of the classroom.

"She was very upset, she loves school, she loves her friends, she loves her teacher, it's hard for these kids to learn on a computer. It's not the same," Thomas said.

Most school leaders aren't fans of virtual learning either. Data is showing many kids don't retain what they've learned that way and while those numbers matter, so do the number of teachers out sick.

Even after they go through all the available substitutes, many districts still have hundreds of classes with no one able to teach.

"This is unlike anything we've ever experienced," said Fort Worth ISD Chief Talent Officer, Raul Pena.

"The need is great, it's real, we're incentivizing substitute pay, additional pay if they pick up jobs on Friday and Monday."

Parents are starting to be warned of what's ahead. 

An email from Grapevine-Colleyville ISD said, "If the number of positive staff cases continue to increase we will have no option but to consider temporary closure."

Birdville ISD is shut down until Thursday, January, 20.

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