EducationLocal NewsAs Pandemic Eases, Many North Texas Schoolchildren Head Back to Classrooms

Dallas, Arlington, and Irving school districts are among those that are beginning to return to the classroom.
September 29, 2020
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As the Lone Star State begins to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, some school districts in North Texas have cautiously started in-person learning.

Dallas, Arlington, and Irving Independent School Districts (ISD) are remaining flexible while moving forward with returning to normal.

Younger Dallas ISD students as well as those who will be attending different campuses than last year will have the opportunity to head back before their peers.

“Students in grades prekindergarten, kindergarten, those moving to a new campus for fourth or sixth grade, from elementary to a new middle school, and from middle school to a new building for high school have the option to start school on Mon., Sept. 28,” Dallas ISD states on its website.

“This early start of on-campus classes only applies to students who are transitioning to a new building. Students who are simply moving to the next grade in a school they attended last year will return with all other students on Oct. 5.”

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Irving ISD — consisting of dozens of schools and almost 34,000 studentsbegan offering in-person classes on Monday. The school district still allows virtual instruction for families who prefer it.

With nearly 60,000 students, Arlington ISD is another large district transitioning back to its campuses.

Dr. Carlos Cavazos, the school district’s superintendent, stated that the district must address the “social and emotional needs” of its staff and students that have arisen from the pandemic.

“As we prepare to resume in-person instruction using a hybrid model from September 28 – October 9 and then reopening campuses for any elementary and junior high students who want in-person instruction on October 13, we have been faced with difficult decisions about what school will look like and how we will provide the best education for all students,” Cavazos said in a statement.

North Texas has been the setting for consternation over the beginning of in-person instruction.

In a meeting last week, Fort Worth Independent School District trustees reportedly altered plans to begin in-person learning, instead opting to bring high schoolers back with a mixture of online and classroom instruction.

Bitter protests and public comment accompanied the meeting, with parents and school staff deeply divided, local media reported.

Though evidence shows Texas is on the other side of the curve, the coronavirus continues to be an obstacle.

With an estimated 1,101,065 students physically attending Texas public schools in the first week of classes, the State of Texas reports that 3,720 students have become ill with COVID-19. 

3,053 of the approximately 800,078 staff members on campus have tested positive, according to state data.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that coronavirus infections are to be expected when schools reopen and provides guidance for safer reopening, contending that reopening schools is important to public health.

“Schools are an important part of the infrastructure of communities, as they provide safe, supportive learning environments for students, employ teachers and other staff, and enable parents, guardians, and caregivers to work,” the CDC says.

“Expecting and planning for the occurrence of one or more cases of COVID-19 in schools can help respond immediately to mitigate the impact to allow the school to remain open for in-person learning, if appropriate.”

Despite the number of cases, Texas has seen no uncontrolled outbreaks in any school district.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.