Leander ISD families to pick between 100% in-person or 100% online learning

Education

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — The Leander Independent School District will ask families to pick between two options for the 2020-21 school year — 100% online or 100% in-person learning for students.

In a newsletter to LISD families, the school district said it’ll offer families the ability to choose their path later this month. The LISD school year is scheduled to begin August 13.

Here are the options according to the newsletter:

  • 100% enrollment in our Virtual Empowered Learning program where teachers will lead both live and self-paced instruction for students; and
  • 100% in-person instruction where we will adhere to the safety and public health guidelines set by our local and national public health agencies, including face coverings, minimizing large gatherings, personal hygiene, contact-tracing, health screenings, and facility sanitization.

The district spokesperson told KXAN based on the state’s guidelines and feasibility, it had to drop the half at-home, half at-school approach as an option.

“At the end of the day, when the state said you had to offer a 100% in-person option, we could not offer that in addition to a blended option and manage it with fidelity,” said Corey Ryan.

According to the newest guidelines from the Texas Education Agency:

“Daily on-campus learning will be available to all parents who would like their students to learn
in school each day. In addition, all parents will have the option to choose remote learning for their children initially, or at any point as the year progresses. Parents who choose remote instruction
for their students may be asked to commit to remote instruction for a full grading period (e.g. 6 or 9 weeks), but will not have to make that commitment more than two weeks in advance, so they can make a decision based on the latest public health information.”

LISD’s announcement came on the same day Austin ISD’s Superintendent Paul Cruz said on Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s Facebook Live AISD’s plan right now is to also have parents choose 100% virtual or 100% in-person.

Parents react to the two choices

Dan and Crystal Howard told KXAN they still have a lot questions about the choices they face.

“What do they consider is going to be impactful virtual learning? Are they going to do actual instruction? Or are they going to just be meeting once a week?” Crystal said.

The Howards have a daughter who’s going into 5th grade and a son who’s getting ready to start 1st grade.

“We couldn’t do a repeat of what it was like at the end of the year. There’s absolutely no way we can sustain doing that,” said Crystal.

Dan said last semester’s virtual learning fell short of their expectations. “They really did the best they could with the limited time that they had, but it was insufficient, “he said.

Ryan told KXAN the district understands the distance learning they offered in March, April and May didn’t “meet the needs of a lot of our parents.”

He said it will be better in the fall.

“We’ve had time to sit back, reflect, work on what needed to happen,” Ryan explained. “Instead of having three days to plan, we’ve had three months to plan, and that is a significant difference as well.”

Ryan added they’re still figuring out how the two options will work for teachers.

LISD is offering webinars this week for families to hear from district leadership and ask questions about the planning. The webinar for elementary school families is Wednesday, July 8 at 1 p.m. The webinar for middle and high school families is Thursday, July 9 at 4 p.m.

Crystal said with so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, this is going to be a difficult decision to make.

“Knowing if there is going to be a lock down I feel like helps decide what to do with our kids in this unique critical time that we’re all facing,” she said.

LISD says it will have further communication with families on Thursday.

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