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Dallas & Fort Worth Schools Say They're Well Prepared For Online-Only Start To The School Year

photo of a man, Dallas superintendent Michael Hinojosa, standing at a lectern speaking into a microphone
Bill Zeeble
Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa says COVID-19 cases have been dropping in Dallas County. As a result, students can return to in-person learning the last week of September. Students with special education needs could come back September 17, all based on parental wishes.

Dallas and Fort Worth schools will start online this year. Both districts say they've increased training and have added online tools to make virtual learning smoother than it was at the start of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, for the first time ever, the Dallas and Fort Worth school districts will begin the school year holding only-online classes. Both districts say they've done a lot of work since March, when COVID-19 altered the entire world almost overnight, leaving districts and students scrambling.

Teachers received a lot of training in online tools, parents and students without technology now presumably have it and the districts no longer feel forced to use one-size-fits-all solutions.

The Dallas Independent School District’s Robyn Harris said parents and students will see more structure throughout the day.

“You will see there are other options that we’ve provided,” Harris said. “Such as different tools, different learning platforms that is a little more robust than what parents would’ve received in the spring.”

Fort Worth Independent School District's Clint Bond said the A-through-F grading system is back and the district won't use the pass or fail evaluation system implemented at the start of the pandemic.

"Since spring, we have changed our curriculum platforms that allow much more flexibility," Bond said. "That means teachers can use their best professional judgment to modify instruction to help those students needing additional support and to accelerate those students who are ahead."

Dallas has added flexibility too, Harris said, especially for parents whose children have special education needs. Because they learn better in person, the district will let them return to class sooner than others.

"As of Sept. 17, special education students in specific classes will have an option to return because we know many parents, they actually are preferring for their student to be in-person,” Harris said. “It’s on a case-by-case basis, and each parent is different.”

According to Harris, Dallas ISD is hoping to begin letting other students back into the classroom Sept. 28 — a week sooner than previously discussed. Harris said that’s because COVID-19 cases in Dallas County have dropped.

Fort Worth ISD has not made a similar adjustment to the date they're planing to start in-person learning yet, but that could always change.

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at . You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

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Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.