News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Dallas ISD Could Continue Online Learning Until There's A Vaccine, Superintendent Says

Screenshot of Michael Hinojosa on a video conference meeting with parents.
Bill Zeeble
Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa speaks during a virtual meeting.

Online classes in Dallas schools could last as long as parents demand them. That's according to the district's superintendent, who took dozens of questions Tuesday night during a virtual town hall.

An hour of questions — by phone or submitted online — flowed rapidly. Parents asked: How will schools be cleaned and students protected from COVID-19? Will they need to wear masks and school uniforms? Will the district offer online classes until there’s a vaccine?

A corral of school leaders was available to answer questions, including Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.

“We’re going to offer online classes for an indefinite period of time,” Hinojosa said. “There may be some vaccines that’ll be available as early as January, but by the time they get to students, it’ll be a more than a year away. So, if a parent doesn’t feel comfortable having the student in a building, we will continue to offer online classes. Then we’ll evaluate where we are depending on a vaccine a year from now.”

Given 6-foot distance recommendations, Hinojosa also said classes would be limited to 16 or 17 students per room — whenever in-person learning starts. He’s expected to decide that after meeting with Dallas County health officials Wednesday.

One parent asked, "what if a student or staff member gets sick?"

“That’s a great question and it’s not if it happens but when it happens,” Hinojosa said . “If it’s in a small elementary school in a self-contained classroom that may have seven or eight students, then we’ll contact the teachers, the parents. We have to notify people that are affected. We may have to shut down that classroom for a period of time.”

Hinojosa said it’s unlikely to stop there. Contact tracing may show more possible infections, which he said could force a whole wing to close, or an entire campus.

DISD's planning another town hall next week, on August 25.

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

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you

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