WACO, TX — Waco ISD announced that the start of school will be pushed back to September 8 this year.
That gives teachers two extra weeks to figure out how to juggle remote classes and technology, something that educators across the state are struggling to nail down.
"It is difficult to keep 100% of your students engaged. That is a challenge that we are going to have to face when we get there, but like I said it's going to be even more difficult when we haven't met these students in person,” said Jennifer Hartline, a Central Texas school teacher and founder of Texas Teachers Safety Initiative.
Waco ISD created a task force in early June to create a plan to reopen campuses in the fall. The task force sent out multiple surveys including one for teachers.
“About 54% of our teachers preferred some kind of hybrid model meaning that that’s a combination of in-person and remote instruction. However, we know our teachers understand that the five days of in-person instruction is required, and that becomes very complex,” said Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon.
There is still a lot of uncertainty though. School districts can’t have a solid plan of action until they have exact enrollment numbers.
”So some teachers could be teaching in-person, and some teachers could be teaching remotely. Teams of teachers at campuses could develop plans where they rotate with remote or in-person so there are lots of ways to address it,” said Dr. Kincannon.
A lot of educators feel like their voices simply aren’t being heard, especially those with underlying health conditions that could be forced back to the classrooms.
“A lot of parents don’t know that if a teacher resigns within the 45 day window of school starting, the school district will yank your license for an entire year. If there is a teacher who say has an immunocompromised child at home, and she is forced to resign because her district will not let her work virtually, then that teacher is going to lose her license and potentially her entire career,” said Hartline.
Dr. Kincannon told media in a press conference Thursday that the school district is still finalizing plans. A part of the reason for the delayed start is to make sure all the plans in place provide the best safety practices for both students and teachers.