KILLEEN, TX — Killeen ISD will begin in-person classes one week ahead of schedule.
Superintendent John Craft made the announcement during Tuesday's regular KISD Boart of Trustees meeting.
Craft says there are hundreds of students within his district that have been having connectivity issues or who don't have the tools necessary for virtual learning. These are two of the many reasons Dr. Kraft says he’s made the decision to return to in-person learning, but of course a decision like this comes with some backlash.
“They are reopening with a high positivity rate and ample evidence of community spread this is not a recipe for success this is a recipe for disaster," said Rick Beaule.
He is president of the Killeen Educators Association and says his phone has been ringing off with hook from teachers in a panic about the return to in person learning.
"Some educators feel they have no choice. They are in the worst spot because they feel like they are in a corner and have to choose between their health and their job. They are scared. They are down right scared,” said Beaule.
The KEA president believes virtual learning could have been a success if the school district planned better.
“They created the problem themselves by not anticipating this and anticipating it happening,” he said.
“All around it’s a very tough situation. Being a parent of children in the district myself, these are questions I've struggled with,” said Dr. Craft.
The superintendent says there are students who haven't logged into their learning system since March, so this decision had to be made to ensure those kids don’t fall behind.
"When you look at the situation, it's very clear that TEA requires that in the event that districts are not able to reach all learners through connectivity and support, we are obligated to offer face-to-face instruction of modality, and that’s exactly what we’re planning to do,” said Dr. Craft.
He explains that the district is in the process of hiring more custodial staff and enhancing cleaning protocols throughout the district.
"It’s going to have to be an overall team effort," said Dr. Craft. "We realize that there are some risks associated with this. Convening in public spaces, grocery stores is no different. We’re just going to work to mediate those risks the best of our abilities.”
But parent and KEA member Tina Murker feels not all parents will be team players.
“You’re asking the parents to self-screen, and I can’t see every parent agreeing to take their [child's] temperature every single day. They say they are but they may forget one day and that may be the day that they actually have a fever,” she said.
Seeing things from both sides of the aisle, Murker says her kids will be staying with the virtual option.
“If we go to school for a couple of weeks, does that really solve the issue?” she questioned.
“You're talking about teachers who are willing to take a bullet for their children, but we are not going to risk our lives for no reason. We have families. We have children of our own that deserve to be safe,” added Beaule.
If parents and guardians aren't comfortable with sending their kids to school the virtual option will still be available.
Students will now be able to attend traditional in-person instruction on Monday, August 31. The district previously voted to push back in-person instruction until after Labor Day.